No one is perfect. We are all human and we make mistakes. These mistakes include happening at work. Ultimately we learn lessons from those career mistakes. It doesn’t mean they’re not cringe worthy or make you feel terrible, but there are steps to take after making a mistake at work.
1. Own it. This part is the hardest, so let’s get it out of the way. Own up to your mistakes sooner rather than later. When caught in a work mistake, your natural reaction will be to defend yourself — and you should, as long as you truly aren’t in the wrong. But how often has trying to cover a mistake ever actually worked out? I find people who lie at work or blame others for their mistakes are unbelievably transparent. If you want to gain respect in the workplace, own up to your mistakes.
2. Don’t avoid it. By taking the time to really soak up the regret of your mistakes, you can learn how to avoid them. None of us are perfect; we all have a weak spot. It may be better to face this weakness head-on than trying to hide it from everyone you work with.
3. Learn from it. Put your foot in your mouth at the office holiday party? Skip that third glass of champagne next time. Know you won’t be able to finish your work on time? Be honest with your boss when your workload is getting to be too much.
4. Apologise. We often want to go on the defensive, but there is nothing more credible than someone who can apologise humbly. People are far more accepting of vulnerability than they are of someone being defensive.
5. Leave it. Making a mistake at work can sting — there can be a lot of embarrassment, regret, anger, and disappointment associated with it. And even though the whole argument stems around the fact that you should lean into these mistakes, there comes a point where you need to move on from them (after you’ve learned from them, of course). Don’t let regret and the fear of mistakes hold you back in your career; making mistakes is an important part of the learning process. Bouncing back from them simply adds to your value as an employee.
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