by Annette Bridges. ©2010. All rights reserved.

I suspect we all know what this idiom means. Perhaps we’ve all said this — or felt like saying it — at least once in our lives. Or maybe this exclamation has been directed toward us!

In short, the demand is to stop acting as if we are better or more intelligent than other people. The call is to become more humble, less haughty, and to lose any attitude of superiority with its overbearing manner and distasteful pride.

This phrase is directed at dismissive arrogance, which I can assure you will poison any relationship — whether the relationship is between husbands and wives, parents and children, bosses and their employees, or leaders and their constituents.

The arrogant assumes his views and opinions are “the truth.” He is more concerned about his own viewpoint being heard, accepted and obeyed than being right or doing what is right.

She demands respect from others when she needs to give respect to others.

An Arabian proverb warns, “Arrogance diminishes wisdom.” Indeed, arrogance and pride can keep us from making good decisions.

There was a general named Naaman, whose story is told in II Kings in the Bible. (II Kings 5:9-14) Naaman’s inflated arrogance and pride almost kept him from being healed of leprosy. When he went to Elisha in search of healing, Elisha sent a message to him telling him to wash seven times in the Jordan River and his skin condition would be cured.

But Naaman was disappointed that Elisha had not come to see him in person to perform an admirable show of God’s healing power. He reacted with haughtiness and disdain at Elisha’s instructions and even asked why he couldn’t wash in a different river that he thought was cleaner.

Naaman’s servants eventually persuaded him to follow Elisha’s directions, and he was cured.

I think the lesson for Naaman (and all of us) is to be willing to listen and humble our ego enough to be open-minded to a new idea — a better and more productive solution than perhaps what we first thought was best.

Have you ever asked someone for advice and then didn’t pay attention to it because it was not what you were hoping to hear?

If we really want the advice of others, then we need to be willing to listen and be attentive and open to their ideas and suggestions. We need a sincere desire to learn. And with that learning, be willing to adapt and change any preconceived notions. This attitude would keep us approachable and teachable and no doubt direct us toward wiser decisions.

Even when we are confident about a decision we’ve made today, we need to be open to making a new one tomorrow.

We live in an ever-changing world. Surely, to keep progressive pace in this world, we need to maintain a modest estimate of our own opinion and remain ready and willing to be taught, to be flexible and yes — to change our mind.

This may mean taking a different approach. This could require an admission that we’ve made a mistake. And if we’re talking about the government of a country, then it would certainly mean a willingness to compromise opinion to work together for the good of the country. There is no place for arrogance in the wise governing of a great nation.

Surely all relationships benefit when we get off our high horse and are not so certain we are right. After all, we might not be!