By: Anja Uitdehaag
To make mistakes is human; to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity – William Arthur Ward
Making no mistakes is, of course, impossible.
There are some very interesting gender differences in how men and women view mistakes. In “How Men Think”, Adrienne Mendell notes the different reactions of men and women regarding their mistakes. Women, in general, have a more difficult time when they make mistakes. She says this is because women are socialized to feel differently about mistakes. Boys are raised to be respected by their team if they learn from what they did wrong. Mistakes provide an opportunity to do better the next time.
But for girls, it is different. When girls make mistakes, they are consoled. This reinforces the idea that they should feel badly about the mistakes.
Mendell compared two partners in an architectural firm who made a mistake on a contract. The woman was devastated and wanted to give up for the rest of the day. The male partner was not ready to give in. He believed that even though the problem was severe, it could be solved. He worked through the night, resolved the issue and they got the contract.
The bottom line, according to Mendell, is that women not only focus on mistakes, but often draw greater attention to them than is necessary. Men are more inclined to forget them and move on or fix them.