Why You Shouldn’t Use Words Which Minimize Your Mistakes

Someone’s description of getting into a fender bender can take the form of “I hit the other car,” or, “I tapped the other car.”

Though the action and its consequences wouldn’t have changed in the matter, the latter description above minimizes the deed through the strategic use of a subtler verb. If you pay close enough attention, you’ll notice people regularly minimizing the damage their own actions cause by finding softer synonyms describing the actions they commit.

For instance, your now broken phone may have been both: dropped by you on the pavement, and slipped out of your hand onto it. Theoretically, you’d have dropped the phone on the pavement whether you detail it slipped out of your hand or not.

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Though the two descriptions can describe the same instance, people are likelier to detail how their phone slipped out of their hand. They’d thereby lessen some of the responsibility they hold in clumsily breaking their phone on the asphalt.

The possible selection of verbiage as you recount the series of events in which you did wrong can be enticing. You have the freedom to paint your misdeeds in softer pastel colors rather than with bright attention grabbing lines. Many take the path of least resistance in regards to lessening the responsibility they hold in making a prior mistake.

This article aims to discourage you from demeaning the responsibility you hold with the words you choose to describe your mistakes.


A Sly Misrepresentation of Damage You’ve Caused Can Amplify It


Interactions with people who are strictly about the matter at hand never seize to humble us. Just as we begin to consider ourselves to be orderly, productive, and resourceful, we seem to meet someone who’s more resourceful, productive, and orderly.

An introduction to people who are further on the path to self improvement than us is perpetually on the horizon. The masters are always showcased as we search for content on hobbies we’re new to and are flirting with. The thinkers have already written books on thoughts we mistakenly assumed were ours and the doers have already done the things we ignorantly think we’d be the first to do.

A lesson you’ve likely learned from someone who is impressively serious about being an optimal performer in life is one of solving problems without the hindrance of emotion. A special relationship with their emotions is what everyone ahead of us in a chosen field universally has in common. Their relationship with their mistakes isn’t common.

The average individual seems to be inclined to be ashamed of mistakes, with there being a discrete desire to suppress others’ negative perception of what they’ve done.

Individuals who are focused on solving problems to the best of their ability don’t have that same relationships with the mistakes they make. Surprisingly, some of them even publicize their own mistakes more than they need to be publicized. Developing a brave relationship with one’s own mistakes seems to be a common stepping stone on the way to developing general mental toughness.

A possible reason why mentally tough individuals aren’t outwardly ashamed of their mistakes is because they have the goal of solving problems guiding their relationship with their own mistakes. They seem to understand that any problem which arises due to their own mistakes would be tougher to solve if they weren’t brutally honest in analyzing their past actions. They seem to know that there needs to be a truthful understanding of the damage they’ve caused.

All these honest efforts are for one goal, and one goal only: to ease the process (for everyone involved) of correcting their past mistakes.

People who downplay their mistakes by being sneaky with how they describe those mistakes muddy the waters for everyone tasked to correct those mistakes. To the ashamed mistake maker’s surprise, anyone serious about solving issues that arise seldom cares about the mistake occurring and who the culprit who made that mistake was. They care about solving what’s already occurred; in other words, they care about controlling only what is under their control going forward.

Suppressing your responsibility with the words you choose in describing a mistake can cause confusion when others try helping you mitigate your prior actions. It can cause innocent aides to make missteps of their own due to your sly dishonesty of the events that transpired through the use of soft vocabulary which attenuates the matter at hand. You can communicate a false sense of security to those whom your mistakes affect directly, and you may play a part in amplifying your prior mistakes’ negative effects.


The Boy Who Cried Sheep


An individual’s act of downplaying their mistakes through the strategic use of select vocabulary is vicariously embarrassing for us to discover. Once you notice particular individuals developing a habit of being strategic with the words they use when they make mistakes, you’ll develop a certain mistrust toward everything they say. You’ll notice yourself begin second guessing whether what they’re telling you is factual at face value.

Should you read between their lines of self preservation?

The flow of communication between any two parties involved thereby develops a certain stutter once you figure out their dirty little habit. The people who habitually under-report their mistakes by employing sneaky linguistic tactics thereby do the opposite of cry wolf. They downplay their mistakes to the point of their listeners suspecting every account of their own mistakes to be worth investigating more than they let on.

Encouraging the development of that kind of mistrust in the things you say about yourself is a hole you won’t dig yourself out of. As soon as your habit of downplaying your mistakes by using strategically inappropriate descriptors is found out, expect others to start double checking your words, work, and past actions.

People who habitually downplay their mistakes are viewed as being immature because they develop this childish habit. Since they’re not children however, they’re understood to be sneaky, but still childish, in ridding themselves of responsibility.

They grow to be expected to say “I tapped” rather than “I hit,” to say “I pecked” rather than “I kissed,” and to say “I missed” rather than “I didn’t have time to respond.”

In what contributes to an overall reputation of being a shifty, slippery, and sly individual, the habit of being strategically selective with your words is not a good one to build.


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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims in any way.