"I got my way in the end," a friend of mine announced proudly after emerging
the victor in a long ongoing dispute he was having with a mutual friend of ours.
"He'll never start with me again," he added. "Aren't you happy for me?"
Because this was the first time I had heard about this issue, I asked for
more details. It became apparent to me that while my friend may have won the
battle, he had lost the war. In his case, he has won the dispute but lost a
I shared with him the following saying: "It is our anger that gets us into a
fight and it is our ego that keeps us there." People tend to go on fighting
about issues even when they are no longer relevant or when their original
importance has diminished. They do this for the sake of proving a point and to
demonstrate that they are the winners and, more importantly, that the other
person is the loser. But often the one who loses the most in the long run is the
As the wisest of all men, King Solomon, said: "Without strategies a nation
will fall, but salvation lies in much counsel" (Proverbs 11:14). To me, this
means we are so caught up by our egos and our opinions that we may miss some
very important points and end up losing more then we gain .
"What should I have done?" my friend wanted to know. "I didn't feel that it
was an ego thing -- I was convinced that I was fighting for the principle!" I
offered the following advice: "When you are having a dispute with someone, it is
wise to seek out the opinions of three of your friends."
Obviously, the people you seek advice from should have an understanding of
the issues involved; after all, you wouldn't ask for financial advice from a
person who is bankrupt or relationship advice from a person who has a poor
record of human relationships. They also have to be people whose egos are not
involved and who have no ax to grind with the person with whom you are in the
dispute; their advice will therefore be based on what is best for you in
this situation. But no less important is that they should be real friends
-- people who care for you enough to tell you what you need to
hear rather then what you want to hear.
Remember that asking for advice does not show a weakness on your part, but
rather a strength that you are smart enough to realize that you are not perfect
and that because you are so emotionally involved, you are seeking independent
While it is always pleasing to win an argument, it leaves a bitter aftertaste
in the lives of everyone involved -- the "winner" as well as the person who
lost. My friend would have to decide whether the consequence of losing a friend
is a price he is prepared to pay for the pleasure of winning the battle.