Be Wrong

WrongI’m going to take a guess and say that around 5-10% of what I write on this site misses the mark. Maybe I’m wrong about something, or I write something to which people don’t relate, or I write badly.

I know when this happens because on those posts I’m deafened by the silence in the comments. When I get it really wrong, people will tell me but for more things it usually just gets really quiet.

For many of us, especially those thinking from a corporate perspective the fear of the consequences being wrong online is a little greater than that associated with a personal blog. The fear of critics; of trolls; of brand damage; of financial or legal consequences in severe situations can be great. It requires a bit of a shift in thinking to realize that, in conversational channels, it’s ok to be wrong occasionally.

Why should you be ok with being wrong occasionally online?

  • Admitting you’re wrong is, in its own way, a powerful way to connect with people. It brings you down from your pedestal.
  • You can learn from the comments you’ll receive from your readers.
  • No-one is perfect. If you’re never wrong, it likely means you’re not breaking out into new territory. That gets boring pretty quickly. Few people really want to be boring.

Of course, we’re talking about opinions here. When it comes to financial, competitive or IR information you can’t mess around. However, if you’re using social media to connect with people, many times we’re going to find ourselves giving opinions.

It’s ok to be wrong.

What do you think? Are you ok with being wrong occasionally?

(Image credit: gundolf)

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  • I’m glad you put in the part about opinions. Lots of what you talk about is your opinion on a fact, so that can’t be wrong, right? We tell stories! Otherwise, Fleet, you’re gonna bore me to death ; )

  • @stevevirtue

    great post Dave – Best marketing advice I ever got was from a farmer who told me that you can’t till the soil that’s hardened into becoming a well traveled path – sometimes you need to step off that path and into the muck to get find growth

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  • Dave, you are spot on with this post about being wrong (wait, that sounds weird.) I especially like the idea of occasionally being wrong means your are breaking new ground. On the same note, being wrong helps you grow personally and professionally. Being able to learn from mistakes is a tremendous critical thinking asset. Thanks for sharing.

    – @vedo

  • Shannon Morton

    Opinions can’t really be wrong. However, if that opinion is based on unsupported facts or evidence, it can incite the wrath of people that want (read: LOVE) to tell you you’re wrong! But I agree with Rayanne: if you’re stating opinion, wrong isn’t the problem… and besides, how else would you start a great conversation? 🙂

    I’m going to make a commitment to do at least one thing wrong today. Just for kicks, and let’s see what everyone says.

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  • You learn a lot more from the mistakes you make and by saying the wrong thing on occasion.

    The tough part many people face isn’t necessarily the making mistakes part (it’s inevitable, you will be wrong on occasion) but in responding to being corrected. People don’t like to be told that they’re wrong.

    If you can keep an open mind to other viewpoints and to the concept that you might be wrong, however, you’ll be able to learn and grow from those experiences.

    Good stuff Dave.

    David

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  • Surprise…being wrong just shows that you are a human for goodness sake. I think that’s the problem with some companies’ fear of delving into social media. They have that fear of something wrong or negative coming up. How the error or negativity is dealt with is the true opportunity.

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  • Some of the posts I’ve learned the most from were ones I thought we wrong or totally of based. Not because of what the post said itself, but because it forced me to take a stance and formulate opinions and reasons as to why I thought it was wrong. In my mind, an occasional wrong post can lead to some excellent posts down the line.

  • great writeup. yep, i am a-okay being wrong. in my 20’s not so sure i was okay with it but now in my late 30’s…..do not mind at all.

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  • John Soriano

    Hi, Dave.

    In my opinion no one’s perfect. It is natural to be wrong at times. I know for a fact that I myself try to be a perfectionist, but clearly am not. If everyone was perfect, where would be the excitement in that? Being wrong is a good way to learn and the things you learn have a tendency to stick with you as you grow older. As the saying goes “you learn from your mistakes.”

    -John

  • Opinions are opinions and there’s nothing wrong with that not unless you pushed through with it, now that’s a different thing. I’m fond of reading blogs and it’s like learning new things from a different perspective, and that’s good.

  • Dave,

    Thanks for this blog post. I am a public relations student at Loyola Chicago and have recently started my own PR blog for my public relations writing class. At first, I felt I had little to nothing to say about social media and public relations, as I have very little real-world experience. After a few months of blogging I’ve learned that it’s okay to put ideas and thoughts out there that may not be exactly on the mark. It’s a learning experience. I really liked your last point about breaking into new territory; if you don’t try new ideas or spark interesting conversation, how are you (or your readers) ever going to learn anything or be inspired to break out of the ordinary?

    -Maggie

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