The best time to admit you’re wrong is as soon as you realise that you are wrong. Digging in your heels and escalating a debate when you know you’re wrong is bad for your professional reputation, for your team’s harmony, and for people’s opinion of you.
The key to graceful acceptance of being wrong is to always keep your mind open to the possibility that you are wrong. There is so much scope for knowledge gaps in the IT profession, this should always be a possibility in your mind. Technology is complex. Even when technology is well-understood, the way technology is implemented can leave gaps in your understanding of how something works.
By keeping an open mind, you can have calm and respectful discussions about a problem without painting yourself into a corner. Avoid using inflammatory language that makes you and the other parties want to double down on your opinions. Keep things friendly and non-threatening by using phrases such as “My understanding of that is…” and “In the past when I’ve seen this happen, it has been…”.
When you learn new facts that make you realise you’re wrong, you can genuinely thank the other person without feeling like they have won some sort of intellectual victory over you. Use phrases such as “I was never sure exactly how that fit together, thank you for clearing that up.”
It’s also good to remember that being wrong is a natural part of your daily work in finding the right answers to problems. When investigating problems you will have to go through a process of elimination. Of the ten possible solutions to a problem, the faster you can identify the nine that are wrong, the sooner you will arrive at the solution that is correct.
So get used to being wrong. And build a reputation of admitting when you are wrong. Nobody will keep score. Quite the contrary. Most people would prefer to work with someone open-minded and willing to accept their own knowledge gaps.
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