Mon | Jun 21, 2021

Trevor E.S. Smith | Why is it so difficult to admit we are wrong?

Published:Sunday | June 2, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Objection! Contention! Frustration!

Getting someone to admit that they are wrong can be challenging. The truth is, many of us find it difficult to admit that we are wrong.

It is easy to point fingers to high places and to look outside of ourselves. However, this is an invitation to look in the mirror.

Sure, the issue brings to the fore, frustrations that we have with our spouse, boss, colleague, family member, friend or road user. But, what about us?

Why do we find it so difficult to admit that we are wrong?


Sometimes we are misguided. We are led astray by wrong information. We hold stubbornly to what we believe to be true out of ignorance or in error.

Current and past history is replete with examples of people who could not be moved from falsely held positions.

Putting 2 + 2 together can be complex. It is amazing how many times we get that sum wrong!


Learn from the past including our own experiences. We have been dead wrong when we had absolutely no doubt. That is a good starting point for when next we are totally convinced that we have the facts.

Entertain doubt. Invite introspection. Seek information. Listen!


When we are challenged about the answer that we got to our 2+2 sum, we may take offence to the questioning of our competence or integrity.

“Am I blind?”

“Do you think I am stupid?”

“Are you questioning my integrity?”

Not really, Trevor. I just want you to re-examine the 2 to see if it is a 5. That would produce another answer, wouldn’t it?

However, instead, Trevor loses the plot and tries to initiate a personality clash.


My friend, counselling psychologist André Allen-Casey is strong on the issue of separating facts from feelings.

Our emotions are the world’s most incompetent tour guides. Our feelings frequently take us into blind alleys and expose us to danger and ridicule.

Be a friend of facts and keep them close to you.

Put your feelings on silent while you open your mind to this crazy concept of ‘alternative facts’. That phrase is a sign of how badly we have lost our way in this climate of fake news.


We don’t enjoy losing face. Are you ready to volunteer to be embarrassed?

Being wrong is never the preferred option.

Consequently, news that we are wrong is not celebrated. We opt for verification and that buys us some time.

Yet, when faced with evidence-laden facts, we still seek negative options:

Red herring

We introduce something that deflects from the issue at hand. Watched the news lately?


“I am not the only one. What is the big deal”? Even better is “But you do it, too”. If they are busy taking the mote out of their eye, they won’t have time to demand my admission.

Stand firm

“I am not going to say I am sorry! I don’t do sorry.”


Do I really need to go into highlighting the fact that admitting when we are wrong is a sign of strength, not weakness?

Must I share that people respect us more when we have the courage and humility to make ourselves vulnerable?

Need I point out that there is a safe zone that we enter when we make it clear that we don’t know everything, and that we are as prone to error as the next person?

Should I urge you to declare that you want to be held accountable when you are found wanting and stubbornly refuse to admit when you are wrong?

Should I suggest that you don’t always have to compete because life has more options than win-lose?

Naw! You know the drill. March!


Please send an email to: with subject line CONFLICT

Answer this question:

When it comes to conflict, what’s YOUR greatest challenge or frustration?

You will be rewarded.

- Trevor E.S. Smith/Success with People Academy Interpersonal relations and performance-enhancement specialists. Providing learning & empowerment and productivity enhancement technology solutions. Email: