What if: You Were Wrong…in Public?

wrong (2)Here is another hypothetical situation presented to the 2016 Enneagram panel. This one made everyone—or at least everyone who acknowledged that the situation could happen to them—feel uncomfortable. That wasn’t the case with some of the other situations.

Each person responded to the scenario by stating how they would feel, what they would think, and what they would say and do.

Situation: You have a heated debate with an instructor in a class you’re taking. Several other students express their admiration for you for standing up for yourself. Later that day, you realize you were mistaken and your instructor was right.

 Type 1: I would feel embarrassed and I would think why did I do that? I would apologize to the class.

Type 2: Well, I would feel elated at first because I stood up for myself and I got acknowledged for that. But then I would probably spiral out of control with guilt. I’d feel horrible that I messed up. My conscience would get the best of me. I would want to go and speak to the instructor immediately. And the other side of that is I wouldn’t want him or her to think I’m stupid. I want to make sure my image out there is clean. I’d also probably tell the other students, but more in a quiet manner.

Type 3: How do I feel? Oh crap! But my image is really important, so I think I’ve got to set this right with the instructor. But the students already think I’m really cool, so I’d talk to the instructor on the side and say, “Really I didn’t mean that.”

Type 4: I would feel terrible that I made a mistake, in public no less, especially when my classmates are expressing their admiration for my standing up to the instructor. I would think that I should be more careful in the future to speak up without being completely certain I was correct. I would apologize to the instructor and the class for being mistaken.

Type 5: As a withdrawing type, I can’t even imagine this scenario. I have never in my life been in a heated argument. But I would feel really bad that I’d hurt somebody’s feelings, and I would first review everything that I know to figure out how I made the mistake, and I would want to understand how my thinking had worked that I’d arrived at the wrong conclusion. And I would definitely apologize to the teacher and to the class.

Type 6: The first thing that popped into my head was shame. And it’s for a bunch of these different reasons because in addition to being wrong, I was wrong in public, so it’s just going to spiral badly. There’s a lot of thinking going on there that’s not very helpful. I definitely apologize to the instructor, and I would end up apologizing to the entire group. And here’s where the loyalty, I think, of the 6 [impacts the situation] in that I have to find something external to cling to, and so in the end my integrity and the way I perceive that I’m perceived is the thing that I’m probably going to try to preserve.

Type 7: I don’t think that would ever happen to me. The reason I say that is because in a public group I will not speak up unless I know my answer is correct. And should this have happened, I would probably turn around and when I discovered I was wrong I would apologize to the professor and go from there. But truly, in a group setting, I will not speak up unless I know what I say is accurate.

Type 8: I would feel bad after a moment of utter disbelief because I’m just not usually wrong. How could this be? I will have to own up to it, I guess. I would definitely let the professor know in private that I was wrong and leave it up to him if it was an instructional point for the class. And if anyone specifically came up to me after that congratulating me, I would correct them and say, “No, I was actually wrong.” But I wouldn’t necessarily tell everybody unless [the instructor] wanted me to.

Type 9: I would feel horribly embarrassed, especially since it’s out of character to have a heated debate with an instructor in front of a group. I’d think I’d probably hurt my standing and my grade with the instructor. So I would apologize to the instructor and explain how much I’ve learned from the situation. And I sure hope he wouldn’t say anything to the class.

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