The No. 1 simple phrase successful people use—that most are afraid to say: Psychology expert
Admitting that you were wrong is difficult to do. In some cultures, it can be seen as a sign of weakness or foolishness, so most people cling tighter to the idea of having certainty and being right.
But researchers have found that when someone does admit they were wrong, they are not seen as less competent. People actually consider them to be smarter, more communal and friendly.
As a psychology expert, I’ve found that highly successful and likable people are “admitters,” and they aren’t afraid to say three simple words: “I was wrong.”
Here’s what good admitters do:
- They prioritize learning and growth.
When you reframe learning as winning, you move towards understanding, rather than tallying up the times when you’ve been right or wrong.
A study supports this, finding that we’re more likely to take responsibility for our mistakes if we believe we have the power to change our behavior.
The key is to remind yourself that even though your behavior was wrong, you can change it in the future. And just because you are admitting wrongdoing, that doesn’t mean you are saying you’re a bad person.
- They ask for more information.
When someone tells you that you’re wrong, instead of immediately jumping to the defensive, get curious about why they’re saying that to you. Respond with “Can you tell me more?” and really listen to what they have to say.
Not only does this make you more receptive to feedback and the other person’s thoughts, but it also has the potential to expand the way you think about a topic or issue.
You’ll become less combative about the views of others while also challenging your own sense of certainty.
- They remember that humans are wired for forgiveness.
When we admit that we’re wrong, not only will we be seen as stronger and friendlier, it’s very likely that we will also be forgiven for our transgressions.
A study by psychologist Molly Crockett revealed that humans have a basic predisposition toward forgiving others, even strangers. Perhaps because the alternative is to hurt or end a relationship and miss out on the benefits it could have brought us down the line.
When we admit our mistakes, we create more potential to preserve or repair the most important connections in your life.