In my early twenties, I read The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer. I was riveted by the title character, who said, “Nothing makes you so angry as knowing you are in the wrong.” That single sentence has had a profound effect on how I handle situations of missteps and blunders throughout my life. Not only has it helped guide my own behavior when I have been in error, it has provided powerful insight into the actions of others when they are at fault. It has taught me the value of showing grace when I’m in the wrong.
If you take a moment to consider, you will find instances when you reacted in anger when you discovered a mistake of your own making. You may have become defensive, or even attacked the person who realized your error. In turn, you are sure to have experienced these reactions from others when their inaccuracies were pointed out.
The power to do better comes from recognizing this all-too-common human failing. It allows you the control to stop yourself from getting tweaked when you’ve made a mistake. We all make mistakes, and to be perfectly honest, some of them turn out to be brilliant. Most, of course, are simply things we need to correct and clean up. People are far more likely to respect you when you own your mistakes and step up to fix them. You have no credibility, veracity, or integrity when you refuse to acknowledge that you were wrong. It’s only a matter of time before this type of egregious behavior is recognized, so don’t go there. Admit your bad, move forward with a solution, and learn from your mistake. It’s a circle of grace and authenticity.
When you encounter an angry reaction from another who is in the wrong, let them know you understand why they are angry. It’s okay for them to be angry that they made a mistake, but it’s not okay for them to act out in anger. It doesn’t matter if they are nine years old or ninety years old. Mistakes happen and what’s important is how we fix the issue and move past it.
This is great topic for a conversation with your family, with your friends, and at work. Get it out there and discuss how you can all take action to grow and improve. In my own family, we talked about this early and refreshed when needed. Once, when I was going through a particularly stressful time at work, my husband only had to point out that I was projecting my anger at the work situation for me to immediately agree and nip it in the bud. It was literally a gentle 60-second reminder for me to correct course. Having the dialogue early in our relationship set the tone and put an effective solution in place when needed.
So the next time you are angry that you made a mistake, stop and think. Make the needed mental adjustment, then think before you speak. You will find that it helps your stress, and your family and friends will appreciate your maturity and grace when you handle your misstep with aplomb.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.