Admitting You Are Wrong Can Be So Right
You Can Do It: Admitting You Are Wrong Can Be So Right
by Elizabeth Skenes Millen
What’s so scary about being wrong? Will people think
you’re dumb, incompetent, less than? Perhaps being wrong will threaten your leadership skills, or diminish respect? These are valid fears because being wrong leaves us feeling vulnerable and
reveals we are not perfect.
Many people thrive on perfection and find being wrong something they can’t bear. According to author Kathryn Schultz, in her book Being Wrong, humans tend to tacitly assume (or loudly insist) they are right about almost everything. As such, she argues, that error is the fundamental human condition and should be celebrated as such. In other words, not only is it OK to be wrong, it’s human nature, though admitting it is not.
However, admitting when you’re wrong—and even apologizing if the situation calls for it—is a sign of great strength and confidence.
An article by Rachel Carpenter, published by Forbes, states: “Being wrong is a blessing in disguise, and it's particularly transformative for those in positions of power: CEOs, founders and managers. You learn something new when you are wrong, and acknowledging it gives you a leg up on egotistic peers. Admitting it out loud gets you extra credit. Your direct reports and stakeholders won't expect it, but their respect will increase with each act of humility.”
Author Steven Johnson teaches us, “Being right keeps you in place. Being wrong forces you to explore.” And the wisest women and men in the world know there are many more lessons in being wrong.
But some people must be right at all costs. In doing so, these same people often find them-selves ostracized by friends, colleagues, even family, because their “rightness” is too over-bearing. No one enjoys conversing or interacting with a know-it-all who won’t even admit de-feat when proven wrong. So, if you have a difficult time admitting you’re wrong or apologizing, the question to ponder is: Would you rather be right or happy? Right or respected? You have the power in you to admit you’re wrong—You Can Do It! These journal questions below will help guide you and set you free. By the way, there are no right—or wrong answers.
“The best of us must sometimes eat our words.”
— J.K. Rowling —
When is the last time I knew I was wrong but wouldn’t admit it?
How did I handle it?
What could I have done to handle it better?
How did I make the other person feel?
Did I make excuses or place blame on someone else?
Why is it so important to me to be right?
Write about a time I admitted I was wrong, and it worked out for the best.
What can I do to “own it” when I am wrong?
When is the last time I apologized?
Was it difficult or easy? Why?
How have apologies or lack of apologies changed my relationships?
How to Apologize
An apology is a statement of remorse you make when you've done something wrong. It can be difficult to apologize but saying sorry can do a lot to preserve and mend relationships.
Follow these steps when you make an apology:
1. Express remorse.
2. Admit responsibility.
3. Make amends.
4. Promise it won't happen again.
Don't offer excuses when you apologize. Otherwise, you'll sound as if you're trying to shift the blame away from yourself and on to someone or something else.
(Source: mindtools.com; How to Apologize)
It is incredible how many hurts can be healed by the two words,
“I’m sorry.” —Author Matshona Dhliwayo