Accountability: Admitting you’re Wrong Means You’re Strong

By: kevinjames@oculustraining.com | On: January 15, 2017 No Comments

Taking Responsibility When it Matters the Most

Anyone will tell you how great it feels to be right. You might get public recognition for it, but even without it, it makes us feel good when we are right. It makes us feel smart. It makes us feel confident. Sometimes, it can make us feel on top of the world! However, in the true definition of the opposite, we also know that being wrong elicits feelings that are not so pleasant. Anger, frustration, embarrassment, and feeling weak can all be feelings we have when we are wrong, and we know it. These feelings are exacerbated when someone else tells us we are wrong. That’s probably why most people don’t like to admit they are wrong. Instead, they either fix their mistake hoping no one will notice, or they just keep it to themselves to avoid taking the blame. The only problem is that it will probably stick with you until you can’t stand it anymore and go crazy! So if these feelings tend to last long after the mistake has been made, why don’t we just admit we are wrong?

Sometimes, it all comes down to perspective. This means that if someone makes a mistake, they may not admit it if they don’t see it as a mistake. More commonly, however, people don’t admit they are wrong because they may equate it to being stupid, incompetent, or being seen as a failure. Even worst, people fear that by admitting their mistakes, that they will be humiliated in front of their peers. Well, I’m here to tell you that it is the exact opposite. As with most things that illicit fear, people who fear them often see it as a bigger threat than anyone else, i.e. the mistake made will seem like a bigger deal to the person who made it than it actually is.

Yeah, yeah, you’re thinking “admitting you’re wrong is easier said than done”, and of course, it is, but it just means that you either just have to give it a go, or work at it over time. In my experience, it is definitely hard admitting you are wrong the first few times. I mean, you are your biggest critic, so you want to do it in a way that doesn’t make it seem so bad. For a while, I had to coach myself to admit my mistakes by self-talking; telling myself things that would be worst than admitting when I was wrong or telling myself what a worst mistake would be. Eventually, I found that it is easier to admit your mistake if you provide a solution for it as well. That way, you can distract your audience from the fact that you made a mistake and show that you are proactive in finding a solution. More often than not, you will be recognized for finding a solution to the problem, which equates to you being right. And we all know how being right makes us feel, so why not do it!

Above all, there are also benefits to admitting you are wrong. Some of these will even make you feel good, so again, why not?

1. It helps build trust.
As I mentioned earlier, people who do not want to admit they are wrong may try and hide their mistake. And, just like a good soap opera, at some point lying and hiding stuff up will unravel. Then you are in bigger trouble than you would have been from your first mistake. Besides, trust is built the more open and honest people are in their interactions, and this means communicating both, when you are right AND when you are wrong.

2. Keeps you humble.
Always doing things right all the time is great, but sometimes it causes you to escape reality and can sometimes cause you to view yourself as better than everyone else. By being able to admit you are wrong, it allows you to be humble and enforces that nobody (even you) is perfect. And that is o.k.
3. Provides an opportunity for growth.
Without making mistakes, how will you ever learn? Admitting when you have made a mistake provides you with the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. It allows you not only to learn from someone else (if they help fix your mistake), but it will help you understand what to do differently next time.

4. Shows leadership.
By being comfortable with admitting you are wrong, you set a strong example for those around you. You can inspire others to be comfortable in admitting they are wrong, which will only make the organization more cohesive. In addition, if you are already in a leadership position, it can help with your image. Leaders who can admit they are wrong and find a solution are often seen as more approachable than those who do not.

We all know how great it is to feel when we have done something right, and believe it or not, admitting you are wrong or have made a mistake IS doing something right. Admitting your mistakes makes you feel better than great, so why be afraid to feel better than great?

Joy Marlinga is the Operations Coordinator for Oculus Training, a British Columbia-based corporate training and mystery shopping company offering sales management, reservations, sensitivity, and customer service training programs for a variety of service-based industries throughout Canada, the U.S., and the world. For more information, call 888.OCULUS4 or visit www.oculustraining.com. You also can connect with Oculus on Twitter @oculustraining, via e-mail at peoplecare@oculustraining.com or visit it on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.

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