People who won’t admit their mistakes often display these 6 character traits

We all know the frustration of dealing with someone who just won’t admit they’re wrong. It’s like hitting a brick wall in a conversation, isn’t it? 

You might even start questioning your own judgment. 

I’ve been there, scratching my head, wondering why some people find it so hard to own up to their mistakes. And to be completely honest, there was a time when I was one of them.

Through observing and reflecting, I’ve identified some common character traits that make it difficult for individuals to admit they’re wrong. 

Knowing these traits can help us understand what’s happening below the surface, and maybe 

make those conversations a little less taxing. So let’s dive in.

1) Defensiveness

When you feel attacked, even the most humble person can be automatically locked into defense mode. It’s only natural.

But people who won’t admit their mistakes tend to get defensive no matter how gently or positively you show them they could do something differently or better.

They just launch into counter-arguments or deflect the issue entirely. 

You can tell they didn’t put any thought or consideration into your feedback, because their responses often contradict each other. 

This is because they’re not speaking from their truth, they’re just digging for anything at all to fight back against what you said.  

How to deal with a defensive person

People who are defensive usually have a deep-seated fear of judgment or rejection. They equate mistakes with personal inadequacy, so they try their hardest to maintain their self-image.

Understanding that defensiveness often masks insecurity can help us approach these people with more empathy. 

While it doesn’t make the conversation any less challenging, it can help you navigate it with a bit more understanding, knowing that you’re dealing with someone who’s likely fighting their own internal battles.

2) Stubbornness

We’ve all encountered that person who is as unyielding as a tree rooted deep in the earth. No matter what evidence you present or how rational your argument, they simply won’t budge. 

I’ve been stuck in these conversational loops myself, feeling more like I’m in a never-ending tug-of-war rather than a meaningful dialogue.

The underlying trait here is stubbornness. For people who exhibit this characteristic, admitting a mistake feels like yielding precious ground, undermining their sense of authority or self-assurance. 

The psychology behind stubbornness often revolves around issues of self-esteem and control. People who are stubborn may equate being right with being valuable. 

The idea of being wrong shakes the very foundation of how they see themselves, leading them to hold onto their opinions with a vice-like grip.

How to deal with a stubborn person

When dealing with such individuals, it can be beneficial to focus less on “winning” the argument and more on opening a door for self-reflection. 

Using open-ended questions can sometimes coax them into examining their views without feeling cornered. For instance, instead of saying, “You’re wrong about this,” you might ask, “What leads you to see it that way?” 

This creates a safe space for discussion, and it may encourage them to eventually re-evaluate their stance.

3) Perfectionism

Ever met someone who seemed so focused on getting everything just right, it became almost paralyzing? 

This is what I struggled with a lot myself — and I’ll admit, it made me very reluctant to admit to my mistakes.

The thing is, perfectionism isn’t just about striving for excellence; it’s an obsessive need to avoid mistakes at all costs. For people trapped in this mindset, admitting a mistake feels like admitting they are deeply flawed. 

They believe their worth is tied to their performance, so any error, no matter how small, becomes a devastating blow to their self-esteem.

The irony is that perfectionism often leads to procrastination, indecision, and sometimes, complete inaction — because they fear making a mistake that will tarnish their record. 

In a way, the quest for perfection becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure, as their reluctance to act or decide can result in more significant errors.

How to deal with a perfectionist

If you’re dealing with a perfectionist who won’t admit they’re wrong, understanding this internal struggle can help you approach the situation more empathetically. 

The key is to help them see that mistakes are not only inevitable but also valuable learning opportunities. 

Framing errors as stepping stones to mastery can sometimes help them lower their guard, making them more receptive to constructive feedback. 

And who knows? It might be the first step in breaking the shackles of their own impossible standards.

4) Need for control

Ever find yourself in a situation where someone just can’t let go of the reins? I’ve felt that frustrating, stifling air around me, and honestly, it makes collaboration feel impossible.

People who have an insatiable need for control are often the ones who struggle the most with admitting mistakes. For them, control is a safety net, a way to manage the unpredictability of life. 

To admit a mistake would mean acknowledging that they’ve lost control, even if only for a moment, and that’s a terrifying prospect for them.

The need for control can manifest in various ways — from micromanaging tasks at work to dictating the flow of a casual conversation. 

These individuals have a specific idea of how things should go, and deviating from that script feels like setting the stage for chaos.

How to deal with a control-freak

If you’re entangled with someone who can’t relinquish control, it’s tempting to push back, to wrestle the wheel away from them. But often, that only leads to more resistance. 

Instead, the goal should be to make them feel secure enough to loosen their grip voluntarily. 

This might mean assuring them that it’s okay to not have all the answers, or demonstrating that others are capable and can be trusted.

Remember, the need for control often stems from deeper insecurities and fears. Offering a safe space for vulnerability can sometimes crack open the door to admitting mistakes. 

It allows them to see that control is not the only way to find safety; sometimes, it comes through collaboration, learning, and yes—admitting when you’re wrong.

5) Lack of empathy

You’ve probably crossed paths with someone who seems to live in their own bubble, utterly unaware of how their actions affect others. 

When it comes to mistakes and inconvenience, it’s as if these people are looking through a one-way mirror — they see out, but they don’t let anything in.

This trait is particularly looked down upon, because it directly impacts us. But when you get down to its root, it deserves our compassion just as much as all the others.

It often stems from not receiving enough love growing up, or being mistreated in a way that requires the person to “harden their shell” in order to protect themselves.

At the same time though, when people can’t or won’t put themselves in another’s shoes, they fail to see the full picture. 

So they may not grasp why they should apologize or make amends because they can’t emotionally connect with the harm they’ve caused.

How to deal with an unempathetic person

Here’s the conundrum: You can’t force someone to be empathetic. Empathy often comes from a deep and emotional understanding of other people’s experiences, something that can be difficult to teach. 

However, you can set boundaries and communicate the impact of their actions clearly. Sometimes, making it about the ’cause and effect’ — rather than blame — can be an eye-opener.

Also, don’t underestimate the power of leading by example. People who lack empathy often haven’t had it modeled for them. 

By consistently demonstrating empathetic behavior, you offer them a template for healthier, more compassionate interactions.

6) Manipulative tendencies

People who won’t admit to their mistakes are often experts at steering conversations and situations to their advantage. 

Their toolkit often includes techniques such as gaslighting, altering the narrative, or implicating others, all to dodge personal responsibility. 

It’s not about honesty or growth for them; it’s about keeping the upper hand.

We often brand these people as “toxic”, and the truth is, this behavior is indeed very hurtful. But it is also often learned as an unhealthy coping mechanism. 

To these people, mistakes feel so horrible that they need to find any way out of them — often not even realizing what they’re doing as a means to that end.

At the same time, obviously, this behavior is not okay, and by not indulging them, you help them stop and find a better way to cope.

How to deal with a manipulative person

If you’re dealing with someone showing these tendencies, it’s crucial to stick to the facts, remain unemotional, and set firm boundaries. 

Manipulators struggle when there’s less room to twist the truth and when their emotional tricks fail to land.

It can be tiring to handle manipulative individuals, but remember: your integrity is your best defense. 

When you’re confident in your version of events, their tactics lose power, and you maintain control of the situation.

Mistakes as a path to personal growth

You’ve just learned 6 character traits of people who won’t admit their mistakes.

Do you recognize someone in these traits? Perhaps it’s even yourself.

Recognizing and admitting mistakes is not a sign of weakness; it’s a stepping stone to personal growth. 

By confronting our flaws, we pave the way for meaningful change. 

So, let’s foster a culture that celebrates learning from missteps, because that’s how we transform weaknesses into strengths, and experiences into wisdom.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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