Musthafa Ebadi
When You Are Wrong You Gain Credibility!
by Musthafa Ebadi on January 15th, 2014

Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about transformation in me as a person in the last few years. One of the major changes has been admitting my mistakes & acknowledging when I am wrong instead of defending them.

Back in 2009 I was leading a team of highly qualified IT professionals for a Managed Services company and one of my team members made a mistake which resulted in network outage (after hours) for one of our clients. Although I was fully aware of  what had happened and why, being a people manager, I immediately started to defend my direct report emphasizing that it was an approved change, it was after hours, had virtually no impact to the client, the mistake was due to honest human error, we were able to restore them before start of their business, etc etc. All the above were facts and valid reasons however one thing I wasn’t doing was seeing the mistake. I was more focused on  two other facts; it was a human error and  the issue was resolved before start of business.

I was not running away from the mistake. I wasn’t afraid that  someone's job might be at risk if I admitted the mistake. And I wasn’t trying to hide the mistake. I did not want to focus on it because I was assuming that if I focused/acknowledged it I will be letting people down, and even though we had one of the best teams and it was an highly successful department I wanted it to be perfect and assumed focusing on mistake will put a black spot on what otherwise was a nearly perfect operation.  
For a good part of the day I and the Account Manager, who was responsible for the overall relationship between us and our client, were going in circles. He wanted me to acknowledge that we messed up while I wanted him to focus that it was an honest mistake and the client was fully operational over an hour before start of  their business.
Later that day in a meeting with my manager  we reviewed the issue, and one of the things that he pointed out was how I was coming across being defensive, unreasonable, and arrogant in my response to the outage. I was doing more to damage my credibility by not admitting the mistake than by defending it.

He thought me  that it was ok to make mistakes, we all make mistakes and it’s not the mistakes that defines us but rather how we respond to it. That afternoon meeting changed me immensely as a person and as a professional for which I am forever grateful to that manager of mine - Todd Simpson! 

Over the next few days I thought a lot about that meeting, and my perspective on making mistakes started to change dramatically. I realized that making mistake is part of being human and as Todd had said it’s how we respond to mistakes is how we will be known to others.
Here is what I learnt and I want to share with you all.

Often we don’t acknowledge our mistakes for multiple reasons but primarily  because we don’t want to let people down, and/or we think if we say it was my mistake it erodes our credibility or corrrodes our reputation.  We assume people may respect us less, may think little of us, and /or we may risk relationship(s). In reality though admitting the mistakes and immediately responding to correct them  will have the opposite effects of the aforementioned assumptions.

The other aspect of admitting mistakes is that it builds you such a reputation that when you defend something people will know that you are right! People will know that when you are wrong you accept and admit, so if you are defending or standing behind something you know what you are saying.
When you don’t admit your mistakes and acknowledge that you are wrong you often get into debates and discussions maybe even arguments. You come across as defensive, arrogant, and unreasonable. Everything you say to protect your reputation and credibility comes across as an excuse  which creates significant dents to the same traits you want to protect.
When we make a mistake majority of us will start immediately responding to fix it. And if its discussed we only talk about steps we took to fix it and want others to do so as well. The very basic yet critical part that we avoid is acknowledging that we made a mistake.
Admitting your mistakes and responding to undo or fix them builds you mammoth credibility as a person and as a professional. It helps build and strengthen relationships, earns you more respect, and give you a positive outlook with your peers, friends, family, and others. Give it a shot and first thing you do next time when you make a mistake or when you are wrong acknowledge it verbally.  You will notice the difference in conversations and discussions  instantaneously , and over time it earns you trust, respect, & appreciation! 

Feel free to agree, disagree, or share your perspective using the comment section of this post. 

Thanks for reading! 

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