Recovering from Mistakes

Published Wednesday, December 22, 2010 5:24 PM

Mistakes are an unavoidable part of work and life. It's been said that the greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually fear you will make one. This celebrated quote states the obvious: mistakes are going to be made, no if, ands or buts. So don't hamstring creativity or the occasional need for risk-taking by desperately trying to avoid errors.  Rather, learn the fine art of recovering from mistakes and free yourself from the fear of taking a misstep.

Moving On

Get some perspective (aka don't panic.) Everyone makes mistakes and even if its doozy, you can still recover and move on (look at Bill Clinton or Martha Stewart for very public examples). Do not hit the panic button; instead collect yourself, take a deep breath and get ready for damage control.

Assess and forgive yourself. Successfully fixing, or moving on from a mistake, requires a little self-care. If you're so busy beating yourself up, odds are you are not going to have the energy to actually fix the problem. Recognize that you made a mistake, as everyone does from time to time, forgive yourself, and get on with the hard work of fixing your mistake.

 Offer sincere apologies. If you've erred, it's time to make amends. Take responsibility for the error, apologize sincerely to the offended parties, and get busy trying to rectify the situation any way you can.  Actions always speak louder than words so put in some solid work before you expect absolution for your error.

Try, try again. Don't let mistakes derail you from staying in the game. Hiding out may be tempting but doing so can make it harder to reenter the fray down the road. Stay visible, let your colleagues see your contrition and your continuing efforts to be a team player.

Do right by people. If you've made a habit of doing right by your co-workers, this will pay dividends when you make a mistake. People are more likely to have your back if you've treated them well. Similarly, don't abandon your friends in their time of need, be consistently supportive of those around you and support will be returned in kind.

You may also find useful advice in the helpful How to Recover from Four Major Mistakes at Work: Bouncing Back After a Big Screwup. 

How do you navigate mistakes? How important is a sincere apology in smoothing ruffled feathers? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Bradley Eggers


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# Ella said on Tuesday, January 10, 2012 3:36 AM

That insight would have saved us a lot of erfoft early on.

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