People Who Refuse to Admit Wrong

People who refuse to admit wrong

People who refuse to admit wrong

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss people who refuse to admit wrong, reveal the significance of admitting mistakes, and 5 steps to becoming empowered to admit mistakes.

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Now, let’s talk about people who refuse to admit wrong, reveal the significance of admitting mistakes, and 5 steps to becoming empowered to admit mistakes.

“Just once I’d like to see you be wrong about something.”

Have you ever said that to someone?

Think of someone in your life who can never admit that he or she is wrong. How do you respond? What effect does it have on your relationship?

The refusal to admit that one is wrong is destructive to relationships in business and personal life.

In a moment, I will reveal the various motivations and intentions for refusing to admit when we are wrong. First, though, let’s look at the impact when you constantly deny making any mistakes or any wrongdoing; it creates:

Resentment – the other person begins to resent you

Rifts – emotional distance is created

Lack of trust – people don’t feel safe or comfortable around you because you fail to be honest about who you are; you fail to accept and admit that you are fallible. In a business setting, clients will conclude that they cannot trust or depend on you and they will progressively do less business with you.

Masking – people will respond to you in kind – they will also put masks on and create false and misleading images of themselves

Isolation – people will begin to isolate you and share less with you and less of themselves with you

Contempt – over time, the refusal to admit you are wrong will lead people to lose respect for you and to have contempt for you

There is a second, common element in the dynamic of the failure to admit one is wrong: blame & offensiveness.

In an attempt to deflect and avoid admitting that a person is wrong or has made an error, he or she will also turn to blaming and attacking the other person. In other words, instead of simply admitting error (“I was wrong”) the person doing the wrong will begin an offensive strategy; they will blame the other person and begin to point out flaws in him or her without ever accepting responsibility for the original wrongdoing. Think of the sports phrase “The best defense is an offense.” Their strategy can involve cruelty, lack of compassion and empathy i.e. they are extremely callous and selfish.

Incidentally, this was the mindset and modus operandi of Adolf Hitler. 

This brings us to the next point: why do people refuse to admit that they are wrong?

It primarily depends on the interpretation of the individual.

For some people, admitting an error, admitting that one was wrong about something is equivalent to being a wrong person. In other words, the criticism, contradiction or simple acceptance of having made a mistake, committed an error or done something wrong triggers subconscious shame.

For others, admitting an error triggers guilt and therefore the subconscious desire for self-punishment.

For others, ego and pride is the motivation: “If I admit I am wrong, then the image others have of me is shattered; I must hold onto my self-image at all costs.” Of course, this self-image is an illusion, a false concept created by oneself in order to meet the expectations of others – to get their approval and to avoid rejection.

And for others, the revelation that one has done something wrong is interpreted as deep criticism and triggers more self-criticism, condemnation  and judgement which, was originally received during childhood.

 “For a scientist, this is a good way to live and die, maybe the ideal way for any of us – excitedly finding we were wrong and excitedly waiting for tomorrow to come so we can start over.” ― Norman Maclean

Strategies to conquer the fear and refusal to admit one is wrong

1.The interpretation
Get clear about what it means to you to be wrong. How do you interpret the criticism (or simple feedback) that you did something wrong or bad?  Do you believe that it makes you a bad person or are you able to separate the action from the person i.e. “I may have done something wrong or bad but that doesn’t mean that I am a wrong person nor does it mean I am wholly bad.”

2.The intention
This is connected to the interpretation of the feedback that you have done something wrong. How do you interpret the other person’s intention? Do you think they are pointing out your errors to undermine or destroy you, to control or have power over you, or, do you interpret the other person’s intention as a desire to enhance and improve the relationship as well as to help you to grow?

3.The emotions
What emotions do the criticism or feedback trigger – guilt, shame, fear, insecurity, self-loathing or something else?

4.The origins
What old memories do the criticism or feedback trigger? Do they trigger or remind you of someone else and someone else’s voice?

5.The response & new interpretation
“And then I decided to be pro me. Be pro you to the end. No more cutting up myself and serving up myself like pieces of a pie for everyone’s tasteless palates. And that doesn’t mean you don’t know how to say sorry; because being pro you means being pro growth and pro improvement. When I’m wrong, I know I’m wrong and I say that I’m wrong. And that’s how I know I’m right!” ― C. JoyBell C.

Once you are clear that the feedback derives from a positive intention to improve a relationship and to help you grow, then you can be thankful that this person actually cares enough about you and your relationship to do what is uncomfortable for him/her by pointing out what is wrong and what is not working.

Remember, most people avoid confrontation, conflict and anything that is uncomfortable. Therefore, they will often run away or ignore you, rather than fighting for the health and future of the relationship. In other words, most people simply give up when the going gets tough.

Understand that you are human; you will make mistakes. We learn from mistakes when we choose to do so.

Admit you are wrong, accept blame (responsibility and accountability); do not attack the person who sheds light on your actions. Thank them. Take new action to right the wrong, to correct the mistake. Act maturely. Being wrong about something or doing something wrong does not make you a wrong or flawed person; it does not make you less than others.

In fact, being open, vulnerable, and willing to admit your flaws and humanness attracts people to you for it brings people closer and creates and enhances trust and intimacy. When you allow others to see into you, the real you, then they will do the same and will allow you to look into them. This is the foundation of a real and meaningful relationship. Read also my articles Why do you always need to be right?  and Admit you are wrong and infallible 

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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