Four words that can make a difference Print
Youth Column
Written by Erick Rommel, Catholic News Service   
Thursday, May. 21, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

People are petty. Watch the news, read a tabloid or just listen to the people around you and this will become all too clear. We get angry over the most stupid stuff.

Think about any feud between celebrities or the last fight you had with your best friend. In many situations four simple words could have eliminated the drama before it even began.

Those words? "I made a mistake."

When used in that combination, those can be the four most valuable words in the English language. But few people say them as often as they should.

The reason in many cases is simple. People think it's a phrase that implies guilt. It can, but it's also a powerful way to take responsibility.

As an example, let's talk about the public feud that's on everyone's mind. I'm talking about the bitter feud between Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. The short version, according to the website Gawker, is that Swift became angry because Perry stole backup dancers from Swift's tour. In response, Swift wrote a song about it on her newest album.

Perry's perspective is different. Apparently the dancers had been on her previous tour and Perry asked if they wanted to return, a decision that meant leaving Swift's tour before it was over. What would happen today if Perry went to Swift and said, "I made a mistake, I shouldn't have asked your dancers to take a job for me while they were working for you"?

Or what would happen if Swift said, "I was angry my dancers left my tour, but I made a mistake. I shouldn't have anonymously channeled my anger against you on my newest album."

The situation between Perry and Swift is no different than a dispute between you and your best friend. The only difference is that they have a global stage and millions of Twitter followers.

Think of a time when your friend criticized something you did, a situation where, upon reflection, you realized you could have handled it differently. Did you admit that? Or did you go on the defensive?

You probably defended your actions. From that point, the next steps were inevitable and predictable. Anger, followed by pain, followed by reconciliation, but not until you and your friend were drawn into a lot of unnecessary drama.

What if you had used those four words instead? What would your friend do? Unless you did something unforgivable, you would remain best friends with no escalation or drama. That's why those words are powerful. When used properly, they aren't a sign of weakness; they're a sign of empowerment.

Admitting a mistake is a sign of strength. When you admit a mistake, you're not saying you're wrong and another person is right. You're saying that you value your relationship more than your ego. You're admitting that you're not perfect and saying you're confident enough to say so.

As long as you don't overuse the words, admitting imperfection is the best way to gain respect. If we all used those four words, we'd all have happier lives.

Erick Rommel is head staff writer for The Catholic Spirit in the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J. His column is syndicated through Catholic News Service.


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