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How do you deal with being wrong?

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Not really a gamification related post today, though it could pertain to the gamification community!

It happens to us all at some point. Someone says something, you see something, read something, hear something – whatever – but it shakes the foundations of something you knew in your hear was correct. Until you discovered this new information, you would have staked the life of your entire family line on what you knew to be correct. Now, you find out that you had been wrong all along – how do you deal with it?

Sounds like a simple question with a simple answer. You own up to it and move on, changing your understanding in the process and then using the new information thereafter.

The problem is, it actually is not that simple. Very often the thing that you have discovered could shake the foundations of your reputation or your product or your policies. Take homoeopathic remedies for instance. Despite all of the research stating they are complete crap, how can the people selling them possibly admit that? Their response is to commission research proving that the other research is wrong.

Look at video games. Every time that research proves there is no direct link between video games and violence, someone tries to prove the opposite or claim that really it does (he played a video game once and then went on a violent rampage….).

The point is that admitting  you are wrong, that someone else’s idea / research is actually better than yours can cause massive damage to you if handled badly!

I am wrong all the time, if you look through the blog you will find the occasional “Retrospective edit”, where I have realised that the content was wrong or a concept was wrong. When I first released my book, I remember there was a terrible phrase near the start that stated “Money is a fantastic motivator”. Whilst this was not strictly wrong (it can be motivator if money is what you currently need most blah blah blah), in the context I had it – it was utter crud! So I changed it and republished (which was then pushed out as a free update). I discuss (read argue) my case about some things until I am blue in the face and will often refuse to back down unless thoroughly convinced. However, as soon as an argument is made that totally makes sense and that I believe in, I will admit I was wrong and follow the “correct path”.

My advice:

  • If you are wrong, just admit it and move on. In the short term it may cause some pain, but if you keep digging yourself into a hole that is wrong, it will get harder and harder to get out!
  • Accept that others may know more than you, even if it means your latest framework needs to be reworked. Hell, I am on the 3rd or 4th version of my User Types because my understanding changes all the time!
  • However, until you have proof that you are wrong – stand your ground. Not because you are stubborn, but because if you have a theory that you have researched, you should expect someone arguing against you to at least have the same level of research as you – if not more! It is they that have the burden of proof in that situation, not you.

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Andrzej Marczewski
About Andrzej Marczewski twitter facebook    
Gamification Consultant. I love to write about it, talk about it and bore people to death with it! If you really want to get to know me, check out the About page.

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