This happened to me recently, but also happens to me all the time. Recently it went down like this:
Person A: “Person B did this thing.”
Me: “That seems bad, shame on person B”.
Me, later: Oh no, actually this thing was fine. Person B is great.
And then I messaged all people privy to the above conversation to say I was wrong, and person B was in fact great.
In that case it seems clear I should have clarified, because person B’s reputation was at stake. But I constantly say milder dumb things, or think maybe something I say was misinterpreted, or came off too strong, or whatever.
If I constantly brought these cases up to people I know, it would probably be annoying and make me seem insecure. But on the other hand, people are probably incorrectly(?) judging me based on things I don’t even endorse now. I know this because I constantly judge people on things they say, and who knows if they still endorse them?
Not really sure what to do about this sitch in general, but here are some possibilities:
- Bring it up more often when I say something which I later think is dumb / misinterpreted.
- When I hear someone say something, be slow to judge them until I talk to them about it directly.
- [joke] Constantly say stupid things so that no one takes anything I say seriously.
One thought on “What to do when you later realize you said something dumb”
I’m pretty sure the equilibrium state is already aware that people get irritated at other people for a variety of reasons not super correlated with how good the person is. Examples:
*I get more irritated at the people I spend more time with, because I have way more opportunities to be irritable around them. But mostly people will update on my overall impression of the person’s character, which I find is fairly robust to short term fluctuations.
*I sometimes get really irritated by people I respect a lot, and even if I transmit my irritation to others, I expect they do a good job of tracking that I actually mostly respect the other person.
*Sometimes I make more serious accusations, about people abusing their power and such, and I normally stand by those. If I backtracked on them, I generally expect the other people I’ve told would find out because it mattered to them, and I’d make an effort to let them know in that case, or it wouldn’t matter to them too much.
I think the main situation in which I’d need to do something is if I made a public accusation of bad behaviour, whereby I would expect people to not only assume I stood by it, but to have common knowledge with me that I had not retracted it, whereby explicitly taking the effort to withdraw it seems important.
To boot up my inner sim: suppose I accused Alice of doing a bad thing, and told Bob, and then later it turned out I was right, but Alice realised it too, and then repented and became a much better person and I understood this and became closer friends with Alice. Would I feel a burning need to immediately tell Bob that my friend Alice was actually excellent? I’d mostly expect it to come up when I saw Bob, and would excitedly tell them about my new friend, or as Bob saw me hanging out with Alice all the time, or Bob might check in with me if it was decision-relevant to them like 6 months later, but mostly I’d expect it to sort itself out.