Stepping Up: What to (and not to) Do When Someone Tells You that You Are Wrong

No one likes to be told that they are wrong. Yet the fact of the matter is that we’re not all right all the time. A large part of growing up and maturing is recognizing this- as well as recognizing that it’s ok to be incorrect sometimes. Another large part of that process is learning how to handle being told we are wrong, and there are right ways to handle it and (of course) wrong ways to handle it.

Don’t be mean, rude, or automatically be attack them because they told you that you were or are wrong.

Don’t automatically assume that someone is “just a hateful person with nothing better to do” because they’re pointing out that you’re doing things wrong. Some people enjoy helping others learn and grow which sometimes requires you telling people that they’re wrong or that a practice is potentially problematic.

Don’t automatically assume that cussing means they’re angry, being rude, or they’re attacking you. Some people are just passionate or just talk like that naturally. Studies have shown that people are actually more receptive to cussing as those who do so often do so because they are passionate about the subject they’re speaking on.

Don’t discount, ignore them, or brush them aside because of the tonality (which you may or may not have misinterpreted) of their response to you.

Don’t tone police them or tell them they should be nicer to you or others. You may be the 100th person today that they’ve had to deal with on the subject they’re pointing out as wrong, and 90 of those before you may have been completely rude to them when they were nice.

Don’t tell them to educate you or act like it’s their responsibility to do so just because they pointed out that you were wrong. It’s not their responsibility to do so. If you ask them politely for resources, they might be kind enough to give them to you, or they may have provided you with the information while they were pointing it out, but don’t demand they give them to you.

Don’t ignore sources when they are given and continue to shout “educate me!“. Google is a new tab and a couple mouse-clicks away. Always be willing to find it yourself.

Don’t hide behind “MY OPINION” as if it validates everything and no one’s allowed to touch it or tell you you’re wrong for it. Yes, your opinion is fine and dandy, but your opinion isn’t untouchable just because it’s yours; Your opinion isn’t somehow deserving to be free of scrutiny just because it’s yours. Additionally, opinions may be wrong and not actually opinions at all despite you believing that they are. Your opinion may be founded on inaccurate information, may contain fallacies, or may completely disregard established fact, in which case it is not “an opinion” but a misconception that needs to be corrected.

Likewise, don’t try to pull the “freedom of speech” card, and if you are trying to play that card you need to re-evaluate your understanding of what “Freedom of Speech” actually means. The Freedom of Speech in our Constitution means that you have the right to say almost anything you want without risk of penalization from the government- so long as you’re not inciting crime or violence, making true threats, and a few other things. It does not, however, mean that you can say whatever you want without repercussion, or that you may not face penalization by non-government bodies. This means that Freedom of Speech does not protect you or your speech from criticism, mockery, shaming, or other consequence- and it also does not mean that you have a right to anonymity in saying it.

Don’t play the “We’re all human!“ card. That card does not exist if you are being called out for a racial issue. Furthermore, it has been proven that “Color-Blindness” is not only racially insensitive, but also perpetuates the cycle of racism and helps to increase the damage done by it. All of us being Human also does not erase the right and ability for those who have rightful ownership over their culture and cultural items and terminology to control the flow and distribution of those things.

Don’t play the “I can do whatever I want” card, either. No, you really can’t do whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want. If you have to obey federal law, you can be a decent person enough not to also completely disregard established religious and spiritual laws, traditions, etc.

Don’t scream and throw a temper tantrum. If you’re using the internet then we assume you are at least 13 years of age and are capable of mature behavior. If you’re being told you’re wrong, usually it’s for a reason. Most people will be nice to you until you get up on that self-righteous soap box and start screaming like a petulant child. After that, all bets are off. Two year old’s throw self righteous, entitled temper tantrums. Adults and people who want to be taken seriously do not.


Do re-read things to ensure that you are not interpreting their message in an incorrect manner or tonality.

Do ask questions about what they feel you are doing wrong, and ask how to fix it or what the correct manner is.

Do research and look into the things they are telling you you are wrong about.

Do approach sources, articles, and corrections with a truly open mind and consideration that you are wrong.

Do be aware of and watch out for when you may be suffering from problems like The Backfire Effect.

Do be aware of and watch out for instances where you may be suffering from problems like Confirmation Bias.

Do stop, sit down, and think about the fact that you may potentially be wrong, and what you are believed to be wrong about.

Do accept it, apologize, and correct it If you are indeed proven to be wrongtumblr_od9z4kycsq1urp3f5o1_540

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