On being right...

20:12 Emma Jeffrey 0 Comments

I’m going to hold my hands up straight off the bat and admit I hate saying sorry. “Doesn’t everyone though?” I asked some friends recently. Their response was a surprising and resounding “No”! Apparently I’m in a minority of people who do not feel the need to compulsively apologise for my being on a daily basis. My husband would most likely attest to this. If he’s to be believed¹ he often follows me around Sainsbury’s, apologising to people whose shopping he thinks I’ve disturbed. Am I really deemed socially inept if I don’t say sorry, as I reach in front of a chap perusing the jams and preserves, for a family size jar of Nutella? Surely “excuse me” works just fine? 
Perhaps the question I should really have asked is “don’t you just hate being wrong”, because this is what I actually meant. I hate saying sorry because it usually means I’m admitting I’m wrong. You see I descend from a long line of people who were born right. My granddad was always right. My Nan was always right. My dad is always right. My mum is always right. My aunties and uncles are always right. Furthermore, over the course of my life I’ve observed my immediate role models precipitating each other’s rightness. I have one particular early childhood memory of my Mum telling me “Emma-Jane, Nanny is clearly wrong but for crying out loud, in future keep your mouth shut!”²
So when we’re wrong, we’re still right? To be honest this has never really sat well with my innate sense of justice; unless that is… I’m the one that’s wrong, in which case I am ‘SO’ right, obvs! On this basis alone the aunties that I sustain any kind of relationship with are now in a minority. Hold on, before you all decide I’m a truly deplorable human being, I’d like to offer some evidence to the contrary, presented here by Kathryn Schulz ³:



There we have it, the case for being wrong, presented so powerfully I’m left wondering how come I didn’t already know it. In recent weeks though I’ve realised I’m not the only person that missed the memo on this important life lesson. In fact our human drive for that sweet state of ‘getting it right’ plays out daily. Here are some of my observations:
  • Five year old does face down starfish whilst whaling that he cannot draw a Ninjago right. “If at first you don’t succeed” goes down like a cup of cold sick.
  • Teenage step daughter stands accused of glaring petulantly at Dad, she asserts it was quite obviously just her resting b**** face (on this matter I can sympathise, but that’s a whole other blog!). The conflict results in a ‘stand-off’ until daughter relents. Dad is always right #fact!
  • Grown-up me, makes an assumption and cuts-off another auntie.4 Basically she’s wrong, I’m right. #stillagrownup
  • HRM MA class interrogates a new and seemingly sensitive lecturer, within an inch of his precious young life, on the ‘precise’ requirements of the current workforce planning assignment. For the audience the subtext is: if we get it wrong, we’ll be coming at you teach!5

The last point is especially relevant. As fully fledged and functioning adults we expect life’s harshest lessons to be behind us. To be fair we get things wrong a whole lot less than our younger selves did, but this really only makes our adult failings that much harder to bear. For those of us in adult learning, did we think we’d come through the university doors, do a little hard work, formalise what we already know, and walk away with a degree… without, that is, getting anything wrong along the way? Of course not I hear you shout! Except, well, we probably thought we’d get most of it right!
In celebration of being beautifully imperfect human beings, exactly as nature intended us to be, why not take this opportunity to confess some of the things you’ve been wrong about recently.  Almost anything goes:
  • PG rated confessions only
  • No swearing (Brookes rules)
  • No actual crimes6

¹ Outright lies!
² There might have been an expletive in the original dialogue. Feel free to add your own.
³ Shulz, K (2011). On being wrong. TED ideas worth spreading. Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/kathryn_schulz_on_being_wrong#t-1048427. (Accessed on: 20 November 2016).
4 No aunties were harmed in the writing of this blog. My recent fall-out was simply ironic and fortuitous timing.
5 This is clearly a joke and not a written threat.
6 You can find out exactly how to report any number of crimes here: http://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/reptcr.htm