General Question

gailcalled's avatar

Why is it hard for some people to say, "I'm sorry'; "You have a point"; or "I made a mistake"?

Asked by gailcalled (52851 points ) September 21st, 2008

We have discussed this before; I’d love to hear from the newcomers, however. Is it a gender issue?

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45 Answers

syz's avatar

In my own case, it’s a matter of maturity. I’m much better at admitting fault or error and apologizing now than I used to be.

jrpowell's avatar

I don’t have anything to add other than a data point. I am a 30 year old male and often admit to being wrong. I don’t have a problem saying, “Opps, I was wrong.”

My mom has never been wrong about anything in her life. She will never admit to making a mistake. And in the rare occasion that she admits to making a mistake she will find a way to blame another person for her actions.

edit :: I will give an example. My mom just stopped by and asked if needed anything from the store since she was going there. If she gets pulled over she will blame me since I had her pick me up some things. Even though she was going there anyway. It will still be my fault that she got the ticket.

sarapnsc's avatar

I can’t speak for others but can only take a guess why they don’t apologize, but normally for me, it’s pride or embarrassment, and sometimes I don’t think I made the mistake, the other party did…I don’t think it’s a gender issue in any way. Every gender, regardless of age has been guilty of it.

asmonet's avatar

Pride.

gailcalled's avatar

@jp: Our mothers must have been separated at birth. Clinically, it is “narcissism,” and “grandiosity” is a big part- the need to be right, to be the center of attention, to take up all the air in the room and to have the last word. I needed a lot of therapy to get rid of that burden. My mother is too old so it is no longer a fair fight; I never did learn a successful coping technique until recently.

gailcalled's avatar

Would “you have a point?” be a good compromise and perhaps mend fences?

JackAdams's avatar

I’m actually grateful when someone points out a genuine error I have made, because I would hate to go through life, continuing to make the same error, repeatedly.

So when I am told about an error I have made, I admit it and thank the person for calling it to my attention, so I won’t repeat it.

cookieman's avatar

@gailcalled and johnpowell: Clearly our mothers were manufactured at the same plant.

gailcalled's avatar

@cprevite: I would laugh if it weren’t so painful. I read the definitive text book on Narcissism and Personality Disorders” (translated from the German, so you can imagine.)It is one of the most difficult personality disorders to treat. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

charliecompany34's avatar

pride. some people just refuse to admit fault. my wife can be like this at times and it effects the whole marriage psychy. best solution: step outside yourself and look at big picture. first step is to admit wrongness.

gailcalled's avatar

@Charlie; “first step is to admit wrongness”; or even the possibility of having been wrong. My ex used to re-invent our personal history and emotional life every six months or so. When I challenged him about having a completely new opinion, he used to answer, “I was just thinking out loud then.”

charliecompany34's avatar

accepting wrongness is the ultimate beginning. but that is the hard part for those who think they are always right.

gailcalled's avatar

Ain’t that the truth?

Jreemy's avatar

I am going to go with pride. My father is like this. Absolutely nothing is his fault, there is always someone else to have. Males are often associated with this behavior (the whole asking for directions thing) but I know women who are like this as well. Did I mention that she is one of my fathers friends. Funny how things work.

gailcalled's avatar

@Jreemy: so what happens when both of them are always right?

Jreemy's avatar

@gailcalled, they laugh alot and gripe about how other people are wrong.

gailcalled's avatar

@Jreemy; I guess all normal neurotics (which would be all of us) develop coping mechanisms.

rowenaz's avatar

My husband will never apologize, because he says he means what ever he says, no matter how evil it was. He will make up for his nastiness, however. A week after our most recent fight (the one over the service guy who tried to kiss me, during which my husband told me to go kill myself repeatedly) I awoke one morning to a newly installed toilet, sink, ice-box maker, a trip to a open air museum, lunch, and um, make up sex. I guess I’ll have to pick a really good fight to get the basement refloored….. He said, “When I told you to kill yourself, I only meant it a tiny little bit.” Nuts.

gailcalled's avatar

@rowenaz: Nuts or scary? I hope the former.

deaddolly's avatar

pride and ego. I think ppl feel like they’re failed and no one likes to fail. I don’t mind being told I’m wrong, but it depends on who’s telling me and how. No one knows everything, all the time. No matter how much they want to.

My boss does nothing wrong. It’s always someone else’s fault and if it’s blatantly her fault, she will dismiss it and you’ll never hear of it again. That gets really old…fast.

gailcalled's avatar

As you say, deaddolly, no one is perfect; we all know that. So making a mistake and apologizing isn’t really failing, as I see it. And now that I think about it, failing at something is also human, isn’t it?

I find it amazing what an apology can accomplish. Use your boss as a negative roll model. G

deaddolly's avatar

I think apologies are wonderful a well. Tho, I think some ppl take it as they are less then they perceive themsleves to be, if they admit they’re wrong.

My boss is the best negative role model there ever was. lol

glitterrrrfish's avatar

feeling below or underneath a person is why I don’t ever say sorry

Nimis's avatar

Me and oops are good friends.

augustlan's avatar

The closest my ex would ever come to admitting he was wrong: In the face of over-whelming evidence of the error in his thinking, he said ” I could be wrong…but I don’t think so!”

JackAdams's avatar

@deaddolly: You were correct when you wrote, “My boss is the best negative role model there ever was.”

The word “roll” refers to something you bake in an oven, or something you do on the front lawn, when your clothing is on fire.

gailcalled's avatar

edit: “role”

Glitter; do you mean that you feel inferior when you apologize? Being perfect is a difficult role to maintain. It can be exhausting, and I personally know of no one who is without flaw, except my ex-, of course. And he has no idea how his three sons really dislike that.

And do we have to be told that we made a mistake? (I am referring primarily to personal relations and not to some doofus thing like losing the car keys.) Don’t you know? (I just left a door open a crack, Milo slipped out and I spent an hour calling him and waiting to find a bloody corps. He finally wandered home and I found myself apologizing to him.)

windex's avatar

…i know a few people who will NEVER EVER admit that they were wrong.

Rotwang's avatar

I don’t think it’s a gender thing.

Also, you can’t get away with never admitting you’re wrong if you work in any technical field. Your mistakes are evident, obivous, and provable. This is one of the reasons I like working in tech. When you’re right you can prove it and when you’re wrong you can prove it.

JackAdams's avatar

@windex: You are so right. People who cannot admit when they are wrong (and change their evil ways) are called ModeraTURDS.

wildflower's avatar

I used to struggle with apologies and admitting mistakes…..then I discovered the wonderful world of blameless apologies: “I’m sorry you feel that way”, “I’m sorry if it came across as harsh/unclear/inappropriate. That was not my intention” and so on.

I think that most of the apologies I give are based on how my actions are perceived by the other person – not how I intended them. I try to think before I act…but I haven’t yet found a way to get it universally right every time….

Nimis's avatar

Wild: Definitely depends on the tone though.
Sometimes blameless apologies can be worse than not apologizing!

sarapnsc's avatar

Sometimes people don’t always reach out and give forgiveness immediately. Sometimes it takes a few days, months, even years. And we try really hard to reach out for their forgiveness, maybe even for something we didn’t do, but in a lot of ways that just makes their hearts a bit harder.

We can’t just give it up because sometimes it isn’t so small and it really takes a toll on the relationship we have with one another. It hurts for us, and trust me, it hurts for them.

We analyze, we wonder what is going on in their heads. Then the judgment starts, because we don’t get why they just can’t get over it. We don’t get why they are making such a huge deal out of things. We try to put ourselves in their shoes, but fail at it. And all of a sudden, we’ve got a grudge. We’re angry and we can’t even see it, but all of a sudden it’s like a need of forgiveness circle that never ends. The trickiest thing is having to forgive someone for not forgiving you.

wildflower's avatar

@nimis: you should never apologize for something you’re not genuinely sorry for. And it is easier to be sorry you didn’t make yourself clear than be sorry you said what you wanted to say.

Nimis's avatar

Wild: I do use them. I just think blameless apologies are best the day after.
In the heat of the moment, they can sometimes sound passive-aggressive.
Kind of like Sorry you’re so retarded for misreading what should have been obvious.

Sometimes (in the midst of it all) it’s best to not say anything at all.

JackAdams's avatar

I had a friend who was the talkshow host of a local radio program. During one of his broadcasts, he said, of a local politician, “Jon Dough is a jerk!”

The next day, of course, that politician called the radio station and told the general manager, “I demand that [the talkshow host] who insulted me, say that he’s sorry, and on the very next broadcast!”

On the next broadcast of the show, the host said, ”Yesterday, I called Jon Dough a jerk, and this morning, he called our studios, demanding that I say that I’m sorry. Ok, I will.”

“I am sorry that Jon Dough is a jerk.”

Fieryspoon's avatar

According to Wikipedia, according to Adam Smith: “An individual pursuing his own self-interest tends to also promote the good of his community as a whole through a principle that he called ‘the invisible hand’.” In order to succeed in a capitalism, you need to work for yourself.

In the US, and probably most western countries, where this sort of mantra is the basis for our capitalism and economy, this translates into people needing to be, at least somewhat self-centered to be “successful”.

Not being able to apologize is a result of self-centeredness—it is a general incapacity to consider other peoples’ point of view.

If you can only see a situation from the point of view you had when you made the mistake, it will be very difficult to see that you made any error at all.

marissa's avatar

I don’t know if this answers the question, but I usually don’t have a problem saying those things, when it is appropriate. I have found that those that don’t say those things when they should, tend to alienate others. People are less likely to speak up or share their thoughts, if they don’t think the other person will give them the courtesy of hearing them out. Why waste their time, if the person they are dealing with won’t say they are ‘sorry’, admit the other person has a ‘point’ or admit they have made a ‘mistake’. I want people to feel comfortable voicing their opinions around me and I value others input, I want someone to tell me if I make a mistake, how else will I learn. It also seems easier for people to say those things, if they other person involved is willing to say those things and will let things go once the other person has acknowledged their error.

glitterrrrfish's avatar

i think it could be a gender thing because guys have bigger egos and it’s duffycult to succumb to another person. As for me, it’s not that I think or wanna be perfect, it’s just that it shows how weak I can be

Fieryspoon's avatar

@glitterrrrfish: I know plenty of women who can’t admit fault, too :)

gailcalled's avatar

I find either saying or hearing any of the three expressions I mentioned feels like an act of grace. “Good point” is a neutral nicety and makes you neither weak nor a failure. It may make (has two meaings here) you a new friend or confidant.

Fieryspoon's avatar

@Gail: I think that the ability to admit fault doesn’t necessarily need to be seen as weakness, but it is true that a lot of people see it that way, unfortunately.

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