You Made A Mistake, Now What?

June 30, 2017


Coffee being poured into a mug

  • Own your mistake. Acknowledge your misstep to all those affected—be it one or two coworkers, your boss or your entire team. Taking responsibility is bound to feel uncomfortable, but accountability is vital if you want people to respect you.

  • Even if the mistake was a pure accident, don’t be defensive and make excuses. Just say you’re sorry. In that way, you’ll earn back any trust you may have lost thorough your error. 

  • Never blame others. Yes, other may have shared in the responsibility for a blunder; nevertheless, don’t point fingers. Blaming others shows you to be mean-spirited and vengeful, and your colleagues are sure to feel hurt and resentful. 

  • Be proactive. No one is perfect; we all drop the ball sometimes. Consider how you can prevent this particular problem from reoccurring. List things you might do differently in a similar situation, and don’t be afraid to ask others for advice.  

  • Meet with the boss. He or she is probably wondering if you’ll repeat your fumble in the future. Explain what you’ll do differently going forward. Do this soon in order to set the boss’s mind at rest.

  • Correct the problem. Did you email the staff a report with outdated figures? Do damage control: Send a retraction with an apology and the correct figures as soon as possible.

  • Don’t obsess. Mentally replaying how or why you messed up is counterproductive. Channel that misplaced energy into finding solutions and getting back to doing your job. 

  • Let it go. What seems overwhelming now may soon feel like a small hiccup. Use your mistake as an opportunity to learn, to move on and to continue to take job-enhancing risks. 

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