No one likes to make a mistake. Admitting it is the best thing you can do.

We all make mistakes. Despite our best intentions, there are times when for various reasons, we’ve made a serious miscalculation resulting in a mistake.

I freely admit that I hate admitting my mistakes. I’d much rather glide over it and divert the issue than say I screwed up. Yet this is the perfect thing to do when it turns out that I did something wrong.

Defensive measures

My father is a proud man and unfortunately, I’m a lot like him. He isn’t the type to admit his mistakes easily. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the amount of times he said, “I was wrong.”

Sort of like Arthur Herbert “The Fonz” Fonzarelli from the 70’s TV hit show, “Happy Days”:

One day we had an argument. I was furious about something and believed I was right and he was wrong. Of course he felt exactly the same way. I walked away from the conversation and stewed in my own juices for awhile.

I knew that this wasn’t a great emotional place to be, so I started to pray. Suddenly, I felt a nudge to go to him, apologize, and admit I was wrong. I fought it at first.

“He’s the one who should apologize to me!” I reasoned. Still, this feeling that I needed to make the first move persisted. So I finally did. I asked for my father’s forgiveness, admitting that I was wrong and apologized for getting so wound up about things.

What happened next shocked me. My father actually apologized to me and said he also was in the wrong.

Now when I first went to him to apologize, I was not doing it to engineer an apology from him. I just felt convicted that I needed to make things right regarding my own behavior. But apologizing first seemed to pave the way for my father to also set things right.

Marriage supplies an ample amount of occasions to admit you’ve been wrong. My husband (a saint, for sure!), has endured times when I’ve made mistakes and admit to them. Thankfully, he has always been gracious about it. In fact, I’d say this is one of the most powerful secrets of a happy marriage: know when you’re in the wrong and be quick to admit it. Life is too short to hold a grudge.

Admitting mistakes in your business

Some people will complain about everything. But there are also times when someone has a legitimate complaint. The way you handle a mistake can often do more good for your company than the best public relations team in town.

As soon as you realize that a mistake has been made, take action immediately to make it right. This may include alerting a boss, a group of people, or a conversation with a customer who has been wrong.

The sooner you admit your mistake, the sooner you can take action to rectify it.

When you are proactive in admitting your mistake, you’ll often find that others will handle it better than you expected. It’s because you’re taking the first step to admit your own failings, which most people realize is not an easy thing to do.

Few people enjoy kicking someone when they’re down and will probably not heap condemnation on you at that point. Instead, they’ll say things like, “Well, it was an easy mistake to make…” or “Most people would have done the same thing.”

A caveat: many B2C businesses have realized that admitting a mistake in an email campaign actually gets a better open rate than the original promotional email. So you often see a “Oops! We Goofed!” email in your inbox. The problem is, too many businesses use this approach and the apology comes off as insincere and manipulative.

You can avoid this by using honest language and detailing the exact mistake that was made. This way, it looks genuine instead of a marketing tactic.

Irate customers

When you have an irate customer, the best thing to do is agree with them that a mistake has been made and you’re going to do everything in your power to make it right. The more you talk about your company’s own shortcomings in the matter, the more the customer will likely soften – sometimes to the point where they end up defending your business!

When you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically. You’ll be rewarded with better relationships and in the long run, people will trust you because you’ve proven yourself willing to admit to your mistakes.

It shows honesty and humility, which are two traits that are irresistible to people. Word will get around. People like doing business with those who treat others with respect. So although no one likes to eat crow, it’s good to know if done right, it can pave the way for better relationships.


Photo credit: TerranceDC / Foter / CC BY-NC



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