Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me
Jul 6 2015
I recently read a very eye-opening and somewhat disturbing book called Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts (Amazon link). It was recommended by a friend, Janelle Monney, who is a prominent executive coach, as well as another mutual friend, Delena Spencer, who is in the financial recruiting space. I highly recommend it and wish everyone would read it!
The findings are relevant for politics, business, criminal justice, and personal relationships. It helps scratch the surface of how we as humans justify our decisions, beliefs, and acts even when it’s not in our or others best interest to do so. As with most things, the actions and behaviors we think are protecting us can end up harming us and others. The book can cause you to question your and other people’s past actions as well as see events through a different lens. Good learning is not always happiness and sunshine, it’s often uncomfortable, embarrassing, painful, and daunting. Such is the human existence!
It certainly helped me gain insight into my own self-justifications as well as identifying others in theirs. The things we do to avoid admitting mistakes and feeling “less than” or “losing face” can be astounding, when a simple: “You were right. I made a mistake.” can go a long way towards healing wounds, finding solutions, and avoiding further damage. Things can deescalate even faster if the other side isn’t too caught up in their own self-justifications so they can hear you, communicate openly, and stop justifying their own story as to why they are right and someone/something else is wrong.
In many cases of conflict, it often seems like the “truth is somewhere in the middle.” Open, empathetic communication can go a long way in getting things back on a more positive track, but as human history has proven that is not easy to do.
Obviously, I highly recommend this book since I’m blogging about it. If you read it, please let me know what you think by leaving a comment or sending a tweet to @aruni.