I’m Wrong and Uncomfortable About It. Now what?
BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN
You were so sure.
So. Incredibly. Sure.
You fought hard to convince the other person you were right. Like, hard. Things got emotional; maybe you yelled or got upset – and they finally gave in and said, ok, you’re right. Everything is great and life moves on…
Or does it?
Time goes by and…you’re wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. And it’s a bit wrong. How do you push your ego out of the way and admit that you were indeed wrong?
Admitting you’ve made a mistake is not easy. It can be seen as a threat to your sense of self, who you are as a person, bring shame, guilt, or even fear. This stubborn ego is going to hurt you in the long run – so if any of this sounds familiar, read on and get ready to start admitting when you’re wrong.
You are not a robot
Mistakes happen! And it’s ok. If you’re a perfectionist consider this: how is your perfectionism serving you? Being right all the time isn’t a human quality – humans make mistakes! We’re not talking about life-changing or ending errors, either. It’s more about the whole thinking you are right and being incorrect type mistakes in conversations and relationships.
Before you even think about getting squishy and open with other people – dig in and think about the last time you were vulnerable. Does the idea of opening up to other people make you nervous? Admitting you’re wrong is showing a lot of vulnerability; what are you worried about?
Agree with them
If you are wrong that generally means someone else was right – or at least not wrong. After you’ve made peace and grace with yourself, admit to the other person that you were wrong. Don’t get defensive about it – just admit that you were wrong, they were right, and try not to add a lot of extra emotion to it. Present the facts and leave them there.
Take a breath
You will one hundred percent want to get defensive and explain away why you were wrong. You didn’t know. You spoke too soon. Maybe you didn’t completely get it wrong; you just misspoke. Pull all that together, swallow every moment of your pride and take a breath. The more you can keep quiet instead of rattling off excuses about why you pushed the “wrong” so much – or why you were wrong – the more it will land as authentic.
Explain, but don’t over-explain
After you’ve let the incredibly emotional moment go by, feel free to calmly and rationally explain why you thought the way you did. Not why you thought they were wrong and pushed your opinion – why did you think the way you did? What was the rationale or lesson you learned from this moment or experience?
Listen to the other person
Let the other person speak more. Say less. If they want to ask questions, hear more, talk about it, let it go, give it time – whatever! – let them drive the conversation from here on out. This is not about you overexplaining or getting their approval for you admitting you were wrong.
Don’t forget to apologize if you were rude
You aren’t apologizing for being wrong – you are apologizing if you were rude. If you were insistent they were wrong – not necessarily that you were right – then take a moment and apologize. You can say “I’m sorry” or you can say “I apologize” – either one is ok! The biggest and most important part of this point – be authentic. If you want to apologize, mean it.