Recently, I had to admit to making an error in posting something to my blog that had not been sufficiently screened to ensure confidentiality. When someone pointed it out to me, I immediately admitted the error and removed that particular post from my blog. While no harm was done to any of the individuals involved, it did represent an oversight, an error on my part.
Admitting error seems to be a difficult process for some individuals. (and not just politicians or sports heroes.) I've found it difficult to maintain stable friendships with people who have great difficulty admitting error on their part, even for minor things.
Thirty years ago, as the new director of an agency, I walked into the office of the youngest supervisor to confront her on the data she had reported on a form I had just created.
“Where did you get this data?” I asked, “I cannot seem to match it up with the other units.”
“I lied.” She replied matter of factly, looking up from her desk.
“What? Why would you do that?” I said, stunned at the directness of her response.
“I didn’t understand your form, and I was afraid if I said that, you would be upset with me or think I was stupid. So I just lied.”
The, experience was a most disarming one. What you do when someone admits, “I lied.” It helped that she admitted she was afraid. Her honesty and vulnerability at that point made her human and understandable.
This five minute interaction taught me the benefit of readily admitting error and getting on with the business modifying the relationship so that future interactions will be a better place. In the process, a trust was established. That was the beginning an honest working relationship.
When we find that we are more concerned with our image and in being right, when we would rather be right than in a relationship, when we find it easier to be less that truthful, evasive, or to simply deny and project the blame, then we are in trouble, not only with others, but more troubling, with ourselves. We are living in a constant state of fear.
Want a new experience in relating to others? Admit error. Admit it openly, readily, and honestly. It can be a refreshing experience.
A new beginning in your relationships with others, and with yourself.