Dealing with people Who Can’t Admit that They Are Wrong
Don’t take it personally – Such people are highly insecure with a very fragile ego. Once we understand this it will be easier for us not to take their behavior personally. New people that will meet them will be put off by their blame but eventually they will realize that such people treat everyone the same, it’s nothing personal. We should also realize that no matter what we do and no matter how much energy we out into an argument, such people will never change unless they see their behavior as a problem.
Understand the psychology – From a very early age, people who cannot admit that they are wrong probably learned that making a mistake meant that they were very wrong and that they were horrible people who did not deserve to live. But their efforts to always be right brought them to the same result. This is because eventually such people start to build a bad reputation and others are not so compassionate towards them, so at the end of the day they still feel as if they are horrible people.
Having said this, we can make it easy for such a person by making the mistake seem light and by putting the blame on ‘everyone’. Example, if a file is misplaced at work and all evidence of who had it last points to a person who can never admit that he is wrong, instead of saying “Where’s the file? You were the last to have it. It’s an important file we can’t lose it.” Rather say “Not that this is a big deal or anything, but if you happen to come across the file, can you let me know? It would be a big help if you could help me look for it. I’m asking everyone else about it, too.”
The statement above was phrased in such a way that would prevent the person from becoming defensive. He was not being targeted nor was he being blamed. This person needed this concept spelled out for him because in his mind, he is still operating on his unconscious assumption that people attack him.
Conclusion – Distancing yourself from the person who cannot admit they are wrong is always an understandable – and sometimes necessary – option. However, modeling that you are a safe person by adopting the above mentioned tips is another effective, though counterintuitive and often overlooked, strategy. While this may never change another person’s outward behavior, it can build trust, over time, allowing a subtle and positive shift in any relationship.