Sunday, December 5, 2010

Admitting You're Wrong

I've often wondered why it's so hard for human beings to admit when we're wrong and to accept constructive criticism from others.  I include myself in this.  I've had to work hard to learn to accept criticism without becoming defensive and still I catch myself wanting to explain it away when someone gives me negative feedback.  There's definitely ego involved.  There are times when we become so attached to our desire to be right that we don't even stop to listen to another person's point of view.  When insisting we are right or denying the validity of criticism we do it so vehemently that it almost seems as though we are fighting to protect our very identities.  And I think in some cases that's exactly what we are doing (or at least what we believe we are doing).

Identity is really only a collection of ideas each person has about him or herself.  Included in these ideas are beliefs about ourselves, beliefs about others, values that we believe we should adhere to, expectations we have of ourselves (and others) and our behaviors, etc.  Some people expect themselves not to make mistakes.  To admit to making a mistake is to admit that they aren't living up to their own expectations, i.e., that they are "not good enough."  Other people believe they should never show weakness to others.  They equate being wrong with being weak.  Thus, even if they know they are wrong they'd never admit it because to do so would make them seem weak and vulnerable.

The inability to accept criticism stems from self doubt.  Confident people accept themselves as they are.  They recognize that they have both strengths and limitations.  They accept that they are human.  Thus, when they are wrong they can admit it because they are, after all, only human.

The irony in this is that people who cannot accept constructive criticism are the very people who could benefit the most from it.  Criticism provides a person with important information about his or her personal weaknesses that he or she would probably not otherwise recognize.  This helps a person to identify areas for personal growth, which is, in my opinion, something we should all be striving for.


  1. Oh wow you will save so much time by accepting responsibility it isn't even funny.

    Hell, I'l even take blame for something I didn't do so we can get to the root of a problem.

    Generally speaking we live in a victim society where everyone is a victim and nobody wants to accept responsibility.

    When people come clean and say they screwed up almost instantly stops any and all confrontation or blame dead in its tracks.

    As for criticism it really is all in the delivery mechanism. I deal with criticism all the time as a coach. I also have to make constructive criticism evals for my players constantly. Using the sandwich method is best for me 85% of the time. Good/not so good/Good.

    Life is a work in progress.


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