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Admitting That You Are Wrong – Part 1

Jul 13, 2020

Why Some of Us Cannot Admit When We Are Wrong

We all make mistakes, and we do so with regularity. Some errors are small, such as forgetting to buy bread on the way home and some are bigger such as leaving home late and missing the flight.

No one enjoys being wrong. It’s an unpleasant emotional experience for all of us. The question is — when supper is ready and there is no bread or when the entire family is at the airport but the plane has left – How do we react in these situations?

Some of us admit we were wrong while some of us kind of imply that we were wrong, but we don’t do it so explicitly or in a way that is satisfying to the other person – we might say that traffic was bad that is why we missed the flight but next time we will leave earlier. But some of us refuse to admit we’re wrong, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Even we left home two hours late we will still find a way to blame the airline.

This week, inshaAllah, we will take a closer look at this last type, the type that can never admit that they are wrong. As we go through the daily discussions, the objective is not to look at others but rather to ask ourselves if we are guilty.

Why Some of Us Cannot Admit that We are Wrong?

Ego – The answer is related to their ego, their very sense-of-self. Some people have such a fragile ego, such brittle self-esteem, such a weak “psychological constitution,” that admitting they made a mistake or that they were wrong is fundamentally too threatening for their egos to tolerate. They literally distort their perception of reality to make it (reality) less threatening. As a result, they will blame the airport, the traffic and even the parking security guard if need be.

They think being wrong means they’re unworthy – For some, conceding that they’re fallible can evoke a deep psychological anxiety regarding the risks or the consequences associated with loss or failure. Some can’t apologize NOT because they don’t like to be wrong, but because it’s seen as an inherent character fault. The difficulty in admitting failure largely comes from the unrealistic expectation that ‘I should get it right all the time’.

They think never admitting fault makes you look stronger – For some, appearing apologetic is congruent to appearing weak, but they could not be more wrong, because a good leader admits their mistakes. According to experts, there’s some actually very interesting research that leaders who express vulnerability and are more open to being fallible tend to be more highly regarded.

This makes sense because if someone is saying, ‘I’m 100 percent perfect, I’m 100 percent right all the time,’ that’s hard to believe because no one is perfect. Whereas someone who says, ‘You know, I’m going to do my best but I’ll make mistakes sometimes, I’ll get it wrong, I’m sorry but I’ll try to fix it’, that’s more believable.

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