How to Admit that You Are Wrong
We all know the uncomfortable feeling of suddenly realizing that mistakes have been made, and the mistakes were our own. That feeling is almost always followed by the realization that there’s a choice to make. We can admit the mistake, and take whatever consequences might be forthcoming, or we can try to hide our culpability and hope that no one notices.
It usually feels a lot easier to hide the truth. However, what is easy isn’t always right. In fact, admitting we are wrong can change the way others relate to us, and can us stronger leaders. However, even though we say that it is good to admit that we’re wrong, it’s still a hard thing to do. Here are a few tips that can assist us…
1. Admit the Truth to Yourself – Always start by telling yourself the truth. If you can’t say, in your own heart, that you were wrong, then any apology you give will feel insincere to the recipient. In addition, working this out for yourself first gives you time to work through any issues you might have with apologizing. You have a chance to tell yourself the truth, that it’s human to be wrong, and you are no more and no less than human. There’s not something wrong with you just because you made a mistake.
2. Be Simple and Clear – The easiest way to admit you’re wrong is to say, “I was wrong, and I’m sorry.” However, it’s best to go beyond this and add specifics about what you’re sorry for, so that both parties know exactly what is being discussed and others understand your side of the story. Some people like to try to admit that they are wrong without actually saying, “I’m sorry.” This can still be effective, but the easiest way to make it clear that you are admitting you are wrong is to actually say those two, difficult words.
3. Discuss What Will Be Different – Once you’ve admitted your fault, talk about how you plan to do things differently in the future. This shows that you have taken your mistake seriously and that you have thought through how things need to be different in the future.
This holds true no matter what kind of mistake you have made. If you hurt someone with your words, talk about how you will speak differently next time. If you made a mistake at work, talk about the checks you have put in place so that the same thing doesn’t happen again. No matter how big of a mistake you’ve made, there are always steps you can take to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
You might think that there is more to it than these three steps, but the truth is that the actual act of admitting you are wrong is pretty easy. It’s the emotional processes behind it that can make it feel like such a monumental task. The more you practice this, though, the easier it will be to know when you are wrong, acknowledge it to yourself, apologize, and make changes for the future.