7 things to do right after you make a mistake on the job

Work Wisdom

7 things to do right after you make a mistake on the job

If there’s one thing we as humans can never avoid on the job, it’s making mistakes. There will be moments when you say the wrong thing in a meeting, make an error in your spreadsheet, or send out a heated email you wish you could take back.

Although making mistakes helps us learn and grow, no one wants to put their reputation or employment on the line. Wondering how to save face after making an error on the job? Here are 7 things you can do to recover.

1. Don’t panic.

First, try to gain control over your emotions. An emotional outburst at the office is not as rare as you’d think, and it’s an understandable and natural reaction. But it won’t help you recover from the mistake you just made. Step back for a moment, stay calm and take a deep breath. This will help prevent you from making further mistakes that may compound the problem.

2. Take ownership.

When we deny our mistakes, we deny our ability to learn from them and prevent them from happening in the future. How can we expect to improve if we don’t take ownership of both our successes and our failures? When we admit and even embrace our mistakes, we open the doors for learning and better work performance.

3. Apologize.

When someone else was negatively affected by your mistake, rather than hide from the reality of what just occurred, ’fess up and say “sorry.” After all, common courtesy suggests we apologize for our mistakes if they have a negative impact on someone. Not only that, but whether or not you apologize can ultimately affect the security of your job, too.

4. Find the solution.

Compose yourself as much as you need but remember — there’s still an error that needs to be fixed. If you take it a step further by figuring out what should be done differently next time to prevent future errors, you’ll showcase your ability to take initiative too.

5. Keep it in perspective.

Are you responsible for making life-or-death decisions at your place of work? Probably not. If not, then know that most mistakes can be corrected. If anything, you’ll have a great opportunity to learn valuable lessons from the mistake you made, and how you went about correcting it.

6. Appreciate the journey.

Did you know mistakes can actually drive creativity and innovation? When people are able to take risks and to push the status quo in a safe-to-fail environment, the organization as a whole benefits. Believe it or not, one person’s small mistake now may lead to a tremendous success later.

7. Remember, it happens.

None of us are perfect — not your boss, not your coworkers, and not even you. Take solace in the fact you’re not the only person in the workplace who’s made a mistake, and plenty of others will make mistakes of their own in the future.

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