The art of being right


“Does anybody know what a craniectomy is?”, my next-desk coworker asks.
Silence from the opposite side of the room where the 2 girls in the back are hiding behind their screens pretending to be absorbed in whatever they’re working on.
Even though I’m busy translating a press release that is due asap, I’m not letting this opportunity to show off my medical knowledge slip.
“Yes, it’s a neurosurgical procedure in which the surgeon removes a part of the skull when the brain is swelling, so it has room to expand”, I reply confidently.
“Are you sure? Or should I check back on Wikipedia?”
Suddenly the 2 girls in the back appear from behind their screens.
“I don’t think you need to do that”, one of them says.
“You know that she’s always right”, the other one agrees.
Even though there is no mistaking the hint of mockery in their voices, I chime in:
“I really am. I know what a craniectomy is because I’ve seen McDreamy performing numerous ones on Grey’s Anatomy.”
The 3 of them stare at me. Suddenly the phone rings. It’s my coworker from the next room.
“Trust me, I’m right”, I add while picking up the phone.
“Hey, do you know what M.D. stands for?”, he asks.
“Medicinae Doctor which is Latin for Doctor of Medicine. Like in House M. D.”, I reply, amused by the easiness of this task.
When I hang up the phone, one of the girls in the back suddenly asks:
“Hey, what is 6 times 8?”
“45”, I blurt out. And blush.

Being right is something I’ve been enjoying since I was a kid. I liked to solve riddles, take part in quizzes at school and play Trivial Pursuit with my friends. When we went on summer vacation which usually involved long car rides my mum used to buy me a puzzle magazine. She knew that this would keep me quiet for the next couple of hours because I wouldn’t stop until I had finished every single puzzle in it. And she was right. Not only gave it my parents some peace and quiet during the journey– only interrupted by my occasional bragging when I had solved a really tough puzzle –, I was also totally happy and relaxed when we finally arrived at our destination.

Over the years I’ve managed to perfect the skill of being right. Of course, my specialities have changed over time – from dinosaurs and cartoons to medicine and American TV series. But the goal is still pretty much the same – and it’s actually really easy to achieve. I for one don’t consider myself extraordinarily smart, even though sometimes I like to pretend I am, just for the fun of it. The key to being right is pretty simple: Only act like you are when you’re at least 99% sure of it. That’s what I do – well, most of the time – and it works.

The great thing is that being right doesn’t only help to impress your family, your friends or that hot guy in the fruit section of the supermarket who just asked you about the difference between a tangerine and a clementine. It can also come in handy in business life, especially if your work involves dealing with clients. There’s nothing more imposing than a person that has the right answers to your questions. Of course, you will not always be able to achieve that and you don’t have to. Because the concept of being right is more than that. It also means to emphasize the things you do know if they are only the slightest related to what your client wants to know or is worried about. But be careful: You don’t want to come across as Mr./Miss Smartypants. So you also have to admit when you don’t have an answer at hand – but at the same time show that you’re willing to change that and that you will get back to him or her when you’ve done so.

Now you might wonder why I actually like being right so much. Honestly, I don’t really know. Maybe it’s an inferiority complex, compulsive behavior or just an annoying quirk. All I know is that I like the thrill of someone popping out a question. I love it when my brain starts racing, trying to find the right answer before someone else does. And nothing beats that feeling when you actually do. But the best part about the art of being right probably is that I can drive my coworkers crazy with it. Right!?


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