Some people have to be right all the time.
Some people have to be right some of the time.
Others rarely feel the need to be right.
The top group suffers from a low self-esteem. They feel constant pressure to impress other members of the group. They will debate until their opponent is too exhausted to continue. They don't recognise (or ignore) the social cost of stressing their point.
This is a hard group to deal with. You have to individually increase their self-esteem, their self-awareness, or remove them (or yourself) from the group. It's usually the latter. They are the antagonists in most debates. They have average levels of knowledge but a high need to be right.
The bottom group are the opposite. They have a relatively high self-esteem. They don't need to prove they're right. They can give an opinion and walk away. They put group harmony above individual victory. They only participate intensively when the wellbeing of others (or themselves) is on the line.
But it's the middle group includes most of us. We feel the need to prove we're right if we've attached our ego to the topic being discussed. i.e. if it's a topic related to a trait the group values – and one of the traits we're trying to use to boost our status among the group.
This is especially true in those with a single, niche, specialisation. Their ego revolves around excelling in this topic. They can't afford to lose that debate in front of others.
Yet even these instincts are tempered by our own self-awareness of our actions among our peer group. If we want the long-term respect of the group, most of us can hold off responding to yet another possible fact about the issue.
And that's the secret here to tackling their behaviour. Don't say it's wrong, don't ask people to stop, simply increase the self-awareness.
We need to be able to recognise and work with members of various personality types. This is one of the topics we'll be addressing at SPRINT Europe in 2 weeks.
I hope you will join us.