“Like to be right” – the art of being wrong

“Japanese people like to be right, don’t they?” It stunned me. And I’ll explain why. 

This post reflects my personal experience of the particular region and generation, and I do not intend to represent the entire Japanese culture.

In English, someone “likes being right” means that person would defend themselves to convince everyone that they are right. Do we agree?

The Japanese like to be right as in we like to be actually right, not convince people that we are right. This means that, we are always looking for places where we are wrong so we can get on the right path. The art of being more right today than we were yesterday lies in seeking out what we’re wrong about.

Does this make the Japanese brave? No. It’s simply easier for us because there is no shame associated with being wrong. Because we can count on others to give us a consistent, positive feedback on us admitting we are wrong. The people who were opposing us do not act victorious and superior, rub it in our face, or punish us for having been wrong but celebrate that we are now right.

Being wrong is never a flaw – not admitting being wrong is.

Of course this excludes the exams… when I got 98 % on the exam where the class average was 32 %, the only thing my dad said was “where’s the other 2 %?” So typical.

How is this in your culture?


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