Nobody likes being wrong. But recognizing and admitting when you are wrong can make you a better person.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi, Ronni.
Ronni: Hey, Brittany.
Brittany: So, I don’t know about you. Maybe this is just a personal thing, but I don’t like being wrong. I don’t know. How do you feel meaningful about it?
Ronni: That is not surprising. I feel like.
Brittany: I don’t think anybody likes being wrong, and if there is somebody who likes being wrong, I have a lot of questions. So, yeah, I don’t like being wrong, and I think that really the thing that is uncomfortable about life is you’re going to be wrong at some point in your life. You’re actually going to be wrong many times throughout your life, and there are a couple of ways you can handle it. I know when I was younger if I used to, and there’s actually, lemme back up. There’s two ways I’m talking about being wrong. So, the first way, let’s say we’re in a political debate, Ronni and I am just completely dedicated to my belief and I think I’m right no matter what. And then you bring up a good point and I have to sit back and realize, oh, okay, maybe I was wrong about that. And that’s really hard. I’ve had to deal with that a lot when I was very new to philosophy and politics. I thought I knew everything and I’d get in arguments with people and sometimes they would have a good point and they would be right, and I would just be so mad and somehow I would turn it back to how it was their fault or, well, no, you’re wrong because you just blah, blah, blah. And it’s easy to even be like, well, you’re a socialist so you’re wrong no matter what. Even though I didn’t read this book and you brought up a good point. So, that’s one way you can be wrong on another day.
Ronni: Actually, I was going to say, I like that you at least recognize that because I still think that there’s a lot of people who don’t realize that how they emotionally respond when they hear something that makes ’em think that they’re wrong. It’s like their brain goes haywire and they don’t know what to do. And it takes an emotional maturity to be able to say, wait, I could be wrong. I’m not going to attack the other person, but think about this first.
Brittany: No, exactly, exactly. And it’s really, really hard. And let me also state that I am not an expert at this when we do because we do a lot of life advice on the show. It is the way the world works and do not let that fool you into believing that we are perfect to any of these things. Nobody in the world is perfect and us especially. So, yeah, so being wrong is not fun. In fact, there was one time, one of my nephews, he was like five and we were sitting on the couch, he was watching a TV show and he said, I saw a blue robin today. And I’m like, no, you didn’t. There’s no such thing as a blue robin. There are only red robins. And he’s like, okay, but I definitely saw a blue robin and I learned about it and my kindergarten class or something. And I’m like, no, you didn’t because there’s no such thing as a blue. First of all, I was arguing with a five-year-old and I was well into my twenties, so that was already a silly thing to do, but I was getting so because I’m like, no, I’m right. And then I sat there and I’m like, I’m just going to Google it real quick. I’m just going to see, and I Google it, and there are absolutely blue robins. That is definitely a thing. And I remember I sat there, I had two choices. I’m like, okay, I could admit that I’m wrong. I really don’t want to, but I could admit that I’m wrong or I could sit here and still claim that, well, I’m older than you. And I know, and I had this idea, I was like, what if I admitted I was wrong? And that actually really helped my nephew trust adults or trust people because I think we have this idea that people in authority always know what’s right, and then someday when they mess up or someday when we see them do something wrong, we almost feel betrayed. We feel betrayed because it’s like, wait a second, you told me you were always right and now I know that that’s wrong. So, it really, I decided to tell him, you know what? You were right. They’re Blue Robbins. And it kind of strengthened our relationship a little bit because there was this, oh, go on.
Ronni: I’m sorry. I’m jumping in.
Brittany: I love it when you jump in.
Ronni: Okay, but I think it’s really important, especially for all of our listeners right now, to know that even though grownups do have a lot more knowledge about the world and a lot more wisdom because we’ve been around longer, we’ve had a longer time to think about things and to process things. And we also just know more about how the world works. But at the same time, there are times in which we’re wrong and kids do know things more than adults. And I think that’s important for the kids that are listening right now to know, just like we’re talking about here, recognizing when we’re wrong, but that even as kids don’t always default to adults just because they say something. And if you know that they’re wrong, adults can be wrong too. I think that’s what I’m trying to say. So I think that it was great that you apologized to your nephew because you’re right, it is an important lesson.
Brittany: And actually, I’m really glad you brought that up because when I was a teacher, I used to purposefully be wrong to let kids know that I was wrong. And that was really fun. That was something we were encouraged to do as teachers. So, sometimes I would put the wrong date on the board just to see if somebody would catch me. And it was funny because sometimes I had trouble getting the children to call me out on it because nobody knew how to tell an adult that they made a mistake. And I think it’s because I was with my nephew at first. I was like, you don’t know I’m older than you. You don’t know. It turns out that he did know better than me. So, I remember putting the date wrong on the board and waiting for them to say, you did that wrong. And finally, somebody raised their hand and said that. And we had a rule, as long as you used decorum, which means to do something like with respect, as long as you were respectful about it, you were allowed to tell me I was wrong or question something. I did. That was something I really enjoyed between me and my students. So a kid raised his hand and said, Ms. Hunter, you’re wrong about the date. And I said, oh, well, how do you know that I’m wrong about the day? And we had a little dialogue and he said, oh, because I know that this is the date. I’m like, okay, but I’m the teacher, so it doesn’t mean I’m always right. And it was like the Socratic method where you ask questions and that’s how you learn things. So we did a back-and-forth questioning, and then another student raised his hand and he said, you should never question the teacher. She’s right because she’s the teacher. And I was like, oh man, you’re proving my point here so much. So then we had a really fun back and forth about being wrong, and my whole class saw me and I told them what had happened at the end, and we had a good talk about it. It was a talk about how to confront people who are older than you or people in authority about being wrong and how good it is when someone can admit they’re wrong. So that’s one way, but there’s another way I want to talk about, and that is when you’ve done something wrong, and this can even be harder in a lot of ways because it’s not good to admit or we don’t like admitting like, oh, I didn’t have that fact, right, or something like that. But it’s even harder to say, oh, what I did was something that hurt someone else or something that I don’t believe is right to do, and I did it anyway out of anger, out of fear, whatever it is, the reason we did it, that is one of the hardest things to do and that’s something honestly, I don’t think you fully recognize until you get older and you have to do it a lot. But I remember even with my siblings having to say like, oh, I stole your t-shirt or whatever it was, because siblings do all sorts of things to each other, or when you hurt a friend’s feelings, we don’t always want or mean to hurt someone’s feelings, but we do. And we have to say, what I did was wrong. I’m so sorry I did that. Will you forgive me? But that goes even further. The reason I think this is important is because politicians are wrong a lot, right, Ronni? Yeah, I think so. Or even not just politicians because not all government people are politicians, but a government in general is wrong a lot. But when’s the last time, Ronni, you heard someone in the government say, you know what? I was wrong. I’m sorry about that guys. I was wrong.
Ronni: Oh gosh. I know it will never happen, but I just so badly want to hear some people in the government or others to admit that they were wrong on some of the COVID policies. That would be the most amazing thing. But they will never admit it.
Brittany: They will never say it. And that’s kind of my point. And it’s funny, even when they have said things like in the beginning it was, you don’t wear a mask, those don’t work, then it was wearing a mask or you’re endangering everybody’s grandparents. And then it went back to, oh wait, cloth masks don’t really work. But they didn’t put that last thing out very loudly, right? It’s like something that just silently kind of comes out. And something else that came to mind is back in before our listeners were born, there was the Iraq War, the second one, and George Bush was the president at the time. The second one, there were two George Bush presidents and two Iraq wars, and they were both, that’s a little confusing. So, the second one, both of them, he said there were these big nuclear weapons and that’s why we had to go into Iraq because they had weapons of mass destruction is what they’re called. But they never found those weapons of mass destruction and we never got an apology. And the troops that went over there and the people who lost their lives, both the Iraqi people and our own soldiers, there was never an apology for that. It was never like, oops, we messed up. I’m so sorry. Not even an oops. Really, we didn’t get anything. And so it’s interesting to me because not that would’ve made it right if the president would’ve said, you know what? Oh, we made a mistake. Obviously, that wouldn’t have corrected the lives lost and all the terrible things that happened, but it would’ve made it a little better. And maybe we feel differently, right? Because at least we would’ve had some recognition of, you know what, we’re not always right. We don’t always do the right things. And COVID, I think is such a great example of that because I think there are so many examples of what didn’t go during COVID that we know didn’t work. Now, in the beginning, I mean people were washing their groceries, their boxes of cereal and stuff. They were wiping ’em down with alcohol wipes because they were saying it was droplets and that’s how it was spread. And then you were.
Ronni: They leave their mail in the mailbox or put it in the garage for three days to
Brittany: Air it out.
Ronni: Before they would open their mail?
Brittany: It was, I mean, we saw people exactly just go crazy. And of course, you have the excuse of, well, we didn’t know we were dealing with, it was brand new. We were getting information so quickly. And that’s absolutely correct. But I think what they should have said after that then is we don’t always know. The truth is we don’t always know, but you never hear that because the government really doesn’t like admitting what it not only is wrong but when it could be wrong.
Ronni: If they did. Or even things like public health departments too, if they later apologized and said, oh, hey, we realized what we had said before was wrong. I believe that it would help restore trust and it would make people trust more. But the problem is, is that when those in authority say things that are wrong, even if they didn’t know they were wrong at the beginning, but if they’re later proven to be wrong, it makes the people not trust anything else that they say. It’s the whole boy who cried wolf thing.
Brittany: No, exactly. And that’s to put it back to what I did with my students. That was the main reason I did that is I wanted to build trust because I think any good relationship is one that’s built on trust. And you can trust that if the person is wrong, they’re going to say something and that’s going to build a good relationship. And the government does not have a good relationship with its people. But there’s something so admirable about saying, you know what? I was wrong. I am so sorry I can’t go back and change who I did, but I’m wrong. And like I said, the Iraq war example, that’s not going to bring anybody back who lost their lives. That’s not going to bring back the goodness. I don’t even know how much was spent on that war, but a lot of billions or trillions, I’m sure. But that doesn’t solve that, but it does at least acknowledge that, okay, we don’t know everything we’ll try in the future, but the government doesn’t do that. I think sadly, a lot of teachers don’t do that, and I wish they would. And a lot of parents probably don’t do that either, because like I said, it’s really hard. It’s really hard to say I was wrong. I should have done that better or differently. So yeah, so that was kind of the lesson I wanted to teach today that it’s okay to be wrong, Obviously, on the government scale, there’s a little bit more at stake when there are lives, but it’s okay to be wrong. You’re going to be wrong. Many times it doesn’t feel good, but I think it helps, and I think people will really admire you, and it builds character. If you can take responsibility for that and say, I was wrong, how can I do better next time? So, that’s really all I want to talk about today. Ronni, do you have any closing thoughts?
Ronni: No, just that I think everything that you said was great, and to other parents that are listening, I like how Brittany was talking about how sometimes parents do that and it is a hard line or it’s hard to know. Sometimes you do want to be the parent and make sure your kids know. But it is really important, I think, to acknowledge when parents are wrong too.
Brittany: Yep. Alright guys, well, that is it for today. And always, please don’t forget to like and subscribe, and share with your friends. And until next time, we will talk to you later.
Ronni: All right, see you soon.