Do you often feel uncomfortable when you’re wrong about something? Specifically, when it’s something you know you learned before or “should” know. Do you ever feel so uncomfortable that you feel the urge to one up someone? Are you one of those people who argue to the end, just to be deemed right? I find it interesting that being right is so appealing to people. You don’t need to know everything in order to get what you want in life. Yet many of us fear being wrong.
How does it feel to be wrong? You’re probably thinking it feels embarrassing, terrifying, devastating. But that’s not how it feels. That’s how it feels when you realize you are wrong. When you actually say something wrong, it often feels the same way as when you say something that’s right. It’s the after effect of being wrong that makes us feel mixed emotions. Therefore, the feeling of being wrong actually feels the same as being correct before the realization sets in.
We all see the world as we are. No matter how alike we think we are, we all interpret things differently. It’s like the recent Laurel vs Yanny debate. We are listening to the same recording, but we hear different things. Many of us are too attached to rightness. This attachment causes us to judge and treat people terribly for being wrong or ignorant. The stigma around being ignorant is baffling to me. We are all lacking knowledge or awareness, until we learn! I associate this stigma back to elementary school. We are taught early in our lives that being right makes you adequate, worthy of praise, and recognition.
That’s why the top students get extra stars and acknowledgement. While the students with all the red markings on their test get deemed stupid and inadequate. As children we internalize the fact that people who are right are better off than those who are wrong. Thus we go on to crave perfectionism in other aspects of our lives. This ultimately creates a domino effect that can be toxic to our interactions with other people. We’re so afraid to be wrong that we’d rather stay silent to stop ourselves from being judged negatively.
Being right all the time is boring. The need to be right is a close-minded way of thinking. There’s always something to be learned from others. There’s a reason many successful people say they aim to be the dumbest person in the room. In environments where we are often less knowledgeable is where we learn and grow the most. I’m speaking all high and mighty about how great being wrong is, but it’s definitely something I still deal with on a daily basis.
I work in the advertising field. Like many creative fields, advertising is a field where we are constantly pushed to be open minded and defend our reasoning. Our job is to brainwash, I mean sell products to people…lol. It’s a field where people will fight to the death to sell an idea. Just to be shot down by the client over and over again, until you get it “right.” I deal with being wrong a lot. I’m aware of this but like many of my colleagues, I get frustrated when I’m wrong, or voice an unpopular opinion, and get ostracized for it. While this feeling is something I often want to avoid emotionally, I know that if I do I’m only hurting myself and the creative process.
I’ve learned that being quiet because you’re nervous or unsure about your opinion only hinders yourself and others. Humans are all unique and we’re meant to share our opinions, no matter how outlandish they are. Being wrong can also be helpful. Asking questions when you don’t understand something is much better than assuming. We’ve all had that moment in class or in a meeting when someone asks that “silly” question that we all were unsure about. I strive to be that brave person whenever I can be. One the other side of being wrong is learning how to get it right.
The next time you feel frustrated because you’re wrong, try this…
- Take a moment of self-compassion to collect yourself
- Take four deep breaths before you respond to another person
- Rethink your argument before you try and defend it
- Pose questions to others instead of acting like a “know it all”
- Open your mind and listen to other opinions