Many people have a difficult time admitting their mistakes because they want to portray an image of strength and perfection.
Saying, “I made a mistake” can be difficult because it requires an admission of vulnerability.
And vulnerability is hard.
What people often don’t realize is that being vulnerable and admitting you’re wrong can bring a multitude of positives that far exceed the negativity of the mistake they made.
Here are 12 good things that can happen when you learn how to own up to a mistake:
1. You create a learning opportunity.
It’s not always easy to take the right action or make the right judgment when you’re confronted with a situation.
Sometimes you simply don’t know better because, in that moment, you can’t know better.
This is the definition of ignorance. And although it’s often used as an insult, ignorance is simply a state of ‘not knowing’.
The key is that you don’t stay in this state of not knowing after you’ve made a mistake.
Admitting that your action or judgment was a mistake is the first step.
Once you accept your lack of knowledge about something you can explore opportunities to learn more about it. This might involve seeking the opinions of the people affected by your mistake or researching the topic further to educate yourself.
Nobody likes to be wrong, but it’s much easier to stomach when you view your mistakes as a learning experience.
Once you’ve learned why your actions or words were wrong, you are no longer ignorant in this situation, and you can commit to not making the same error again.
2. Your self-reflection improves.
Self-reflection is an important part of personal growth.
Admitting your mistakes can free you from the limited perception that comes with stubbornly needing to be right.
But what does that mean?
Well, if you can’t admit your mistakes, you’ll have a much harder time objectively examining yourself and your actions because you’re only looking at the problem through your own eyes and emotions.
You’ll be constantly trying to justify your behaviour which closes the door to self-reflection and growth.
Instead, if you admit your errors you can connect with the person you wronged. You’ll realize you don’t need to justify your bad behavior which will make it easier for you to understand the mistake from their perspective.
This shift in mindset allows you to reflect on your actions and identify areas for personal growth and development.
3. You show you are trustworthy.
Taking responsibility for your mistakes demonstrates accountability which is a key characteristic of reliable, trustworthy people.
Why is accountability so important?
Well, avoiding responsibility often requires deception or lying.
Furthermore, not taking responsibility may introduce additional problems as the mistake escalates if not dealt with promptly.
For example, if you mess up at work, the mistake can often be fixed much easier the sooner it’s addressed. The longer it goes on, the more likely it is to cause other problems or damage, which often require more money and man-hours to make right.
4. You strengthen your relationships.
Honest communication fosters trust in relationships.
People are more likely to trust and respect someone who admits their errors.
They’ll know they don’t need to worry about you having ulterior motives or hiding away important information. They know that you’ll be upfront when you make a mistake, apologize, and want to fix it.
That’s what healthy relationships are all about.
Sooner or later you’ll butt heads in any relationship. But rather than trying to be right all the time, admitting your mistakes means you stop fighting with everyone and resolve problems before they escalate.
The way you handle your mistakes can be the difference between making and breaking a relationship.
5. You develop a growth mindset.
A growth mindset is the understanding that no matter what you do you can learn from your actions and grow as a person.
It re-frames mistakes from a negative to something more positive.
Granted, you’re probably not going to be celebrating, shouting “YAY! I MADE A MISTAKE!”
You’ll probably still feel at least a little bad about it. It would be strange if you didn’t. However, looking at your mistakes and the admission of them as a chance to learn and grow takes some of the sting out of it.
6. You enhance your problem-solving skills.
A mistake is an accidental problem you caused that needs solving.
It’s highly unlikely you meant to do the wrong thing. You probably just didn’t know any better, or you made the wrong choice.
But unintentional or not, if you want to make amends, you need to first admit the problem and then find a way to fix it.
Granted, the person you wronged may know exactly how they want you to fix it and you need to listen to them. But if they don’t, you’ll need to come up with a solution on your own or work with them to find a mutually acceptable resolution.
And this requires problem-solving skills.
So, think of every mistake you admit to as an opportunity to collaborate and come up with effective solutions to future challenges you may encounter.
7. You demonstrate humility.
Humility makes you more approachable and relatable to others.
When you hide your mistakes you construct and maintain a façade that walls you off from real connection.
How can people genuinely like you if they don’t know the authentic you?
Humility is another sign of vulnerability.
Everyone makes mistakes, so when you own your flaws you show you are humble. This encourages others to do the same and fosters trust and acceptance in relationships.
In contrast, the people who refuse to admit their mistakes demonstrate arrogance, or worse, outright deceit. They will be rumbled eventually, at which point the trust is broken, often beyond repair.
Rather than showing weakness, there’s power in the ability to admit you’re human and thus prone to making mistakes, just like everyone else.
8. You improve your leadership skills.
Some people believe a great leader should be infallible.
But in truth, one of the greatest things you can do as a leader is show integrity and admit you were wrong if you make a mistake or error of judgment.
Such admissions create a culture where honesty is valued above appearance or favorable opinion. They show that learning and improvement are valued and encouraged.
The thoughts and opinions of followers or subordinates are acknowledged when they are allowed to correct the mistakes of their leader.
Furthermore, it helps foster an environment where everyone feels more comfortable stepping forward to admit their own mistakes.
And that’s the kind of environment in which everyone wins.
9. You build courage.
It’s scary admitting your mistakes.
You don’t know how others will react. There could be unpleasant judgments and uncomfortable repercussions.
Depending on the scale of the mistake, the outcome of the confession could even be life-changing.
It’s no surprise then, that to face the fear of judgement and rejection and admit your mistake is a huge act of bravery.
The fear that comes with owning your errors will likely never go away, but with every admission you make, you build more courage and resilience.
The courage that you can go through with it, and the belief that you will survive the repercussions, whatever they are.
10. You demonstrate your honesty.
Honesty is an essential part of any healthy relationship. Relationships that lack honesty and integrity are suspect. Fact.
When someone lacks the integrity to own up to their mistakes, you can never fully trust them. You can’t trust that they will be honest with you if they do something wrong, and you’ll probably start to doubt them even when they aren’t making mistakes.
Dishonesty is pervasive like that.
In contrast, when you have the integrity to own up to your errors, you demonstrate that you’ll stick to your word, take responsibility for your actions, and strive to make the right choices when you’re confronted with them.
People might be hurt by your mistake, sure, but they’ll respect you for your honesty and know they can trust you to tell the truth going forward.
11. You facilitate conflict resolution.
Don’t you hate it when you argue with someone, and the tension just hangs in the air? Like you can cut it with a knife.
That feeling is typically uncomfortable for everyone.
The best way to relieve that tension is to get everything off your chest with meaningful communication.
And admitting your mistake is a great place to start.
It shows the other person that you want to make a good-faith effort to sort things out between you.
This is helpful in both personal and professional relationships because it offers an olive branch to the other person, letting them know you are ready to try and resolve the conflict rather than just bicker about it.
12. You improve your decision-making skills.
When you admit a mistake, you confront it. This brings it to the fore and allows you to sit down and examine what led you to make it.
By following your decision-making trail backward, you can identify where you made wrong turns. Then, you can apply that information to future decisions you are confronted with so that when a similar situation arises you can make well-thought-out and informed choices.
In contrast, when we don’t admit to our wrongdoing, we tend to bury it, giving us zero chance to examine it and improve our decision-making skills going forward.
It’s hard to be vulnerable and to admit your mistakes.
It’s something that many people struggle with because it’s uncomfortable. But if you are willing to face this discomfort and honestly address your errors, you’ll find your relationships will be stronger and healthier as a result.
You’ll open lines of communication, be more trustworthy, and connect more deeply with other people.
So take the difficult path of owning your mistakes. It can transform your relationships and your life.