Few years ago, my wife and I went for a stroll in the evening before we dined. One particular shop caught our eye. It was that of the art. After spending some time in the shop, we bought a beautiful ceramic plate with hand crafted art. It was so good that we both instantly fell in love with. So much so that we wanted to buy few of them and get them shipped to our folks back home in India. The shopkeeper said the piece is very sensitive and he wouldn’t advice doing so. Ah well, alright. We got back home with the plate. All was well. After few months, while I was trying to get some stuff off the shelf, this plate that was wrapped in a cover, fell down and I heard some sound of the cracking. At that very moment, I felt terrible followed by fear. Fear of confronting my wife that I had broken the plate. I was not ready to admit my mistake.
In one of the conferences that I attended pre-pandemic, I met with an affable person, president of a reputed school. The conference had exposed him to some novel technological solutions hitherto unheard in education. The gentleman had been asking a lot of questions to speakers and it showed he was totally involved in his passion project. Somewhere during our conversation, he admitted having erred in underestimating the power of technology in education and that he had sidelined demands for more investment in advance technology from his staff. He seemed to be repenting alone but his resolve to rectify his mistake seemed palpable even amidst the crowd. Few people, especially those at higher positions, find it comfortable to admit they have erred. An error in judgment, a mistake, being wrong is not everyone’s cup of tea. Pride is hard to swallow, more so when it has made friends with ego. Committing mistakes is one thing but admitting one is frustrating, embarrassing and cringe-worthy. It somehow makes the person feel a lesser human being, though it may not be the case.
Why do people hesitate to admit they have been wrong
- The biggest reason is the fear of being seen as immature and incapable of being correct at all times. They feel that being seen as fallible means you are one among the hundreds below you. It someone makes them feel robbed of their invincibility
- People take efforts to justify mistakes even in the light of the obvious. This further complicates matters
- Admitting you have been wrong takes a lot of courage which few people have. It’s one thing to be a leader but different altogether to be seen as a learning leader
- Insecurity is also another reason why people hesitate. They fear their admitting to being wrong will strengthen their competitors.
- It’s easier to brush mistakes aside for the time being than to admit it. Denying, ignoring or simply justifying a mistake comes up later as a bigger problem than the original. Read more...