The idea for this post was triggered by this Wall Street Journal article by writer Rachel Shukert. The WSJ article is about women, but I think fear that admitting mistakes will make you less likable is an issue for men too.
Here are two DIY psychological experiments you could try. If you try them, I’d love to hear via email about how it went – admin (at) aliceboyes (dot) com
1. When someone else admits having made a mistake to you, notice whether you like that person more or like them less?
In my personal life, I’ve often noticed that when people tell me about mistakes they’ve made, I like them more than I did previously.
btw, I mean this generally to relate to when people admit mistakes to you that have not caused you personal harm (when people reveal their flaws rather than when they apologize).
Some reasons why admitting mistakes can lead to increased likability:
– Willingness to admit mistakes can be a sign of openness. Openness is generally an attractive personal quality, so when people exhibit openness it tends to make them more likable.
– The capacity to admit a mistake in a healthy way shows healthy self esteem. Healthy self esteem is an attractive quality.
– Often when someone admits a mistake, the act of doing that indicates a willingness to trust the person they are admitting the mistake to. People generally perceive being trusted by someone as a compliment.
– People who seem perfect tend to seem boring. Flaws make for complex, interesting, “characters”
2. Experiment with admitting mistakes to other people. Observe whether it seems to cause them to like you less, more, or no change.
Obviously use your judgment. I’m not suggesting you, for example, tell your partner about an affair you had in the past.