Are You Addicted to Being Right?

By Ben Feuerherd 03/06/13

When we win an argument, our brains release dopamine and adrenaline, and we can get hooked.

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If you think arguing is not addictive, you're
WRONG.
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After a heated argument, proving your opponent wrong can feel so good, it could have you going back for more, and more. "Winning" an argument actually releases dopamine and adrenaline in the brain, and can be addictive, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review. "We get addicted to being right," says article author and communications expert Judith E. Glaser, "I've coached dozens of incredibly successful leaders who suffer from this addiction." But Glaser adds that there's another hormone which feels "just as good" as adrenaline: oxytocin. Our brains release oxytocin when we connect with other people, "further increasing our ability to trust and open ourselves to sharing." By connecting and bonding, instead of driving an opponent into the ground, those "addicted" to arguing can replace their adrenaline addiction with more productive behavior. Glaser offers various suggestions to break an unhealthy cycle, including setting "rules of engagement," and listening with empathy. "In one-on-one conversations, make a conscious effort to speak less and listen more," she writes. "The more you learn about other peoples' perspectives, the more likely you are to feel empathy for them. And when you do that for others, they'll want to do it for you, creating a virtuous circle."

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Benjamin Feuerherd is a city reporter at the New York Post. He has previously worked for The Daily Beast and NBC. You can find him on Linkedin and Twitter