handling mistakes

Handling Mistakes

Written By:

Lynn Whitbeck

How do I address mistakes in the workplace? Whether I was the one who made a mistake or a co-worker is the one in error, how do we resolve them and move forward professionally? – Fernanda in San Diego, CA


LYNN & TINA: Mistakes are a fact of life – it is how they are handled and how they are resolved that separates success from mediocrity. While we can allow mistakes to make us feel silly, incompetent, or even angry, we must strive to find solutions to overcome inadequacies.

How do you address it if it’s not your mistake? First, be kind and supportive of efforts to date. Have a conversation about the existing situation and how best to take corrective measures. It is a very uncomfortable position when you are advising someone of their shortcomings. Be honest about the situation, but keep your feelings out of the conversation. Mistakes are tangible and they have consequences. Feelings are intangible and are open for interpretation.

And what if you are the one who made a mistake? For most people, it is difficult to admit when a mistake has been made. It is heroic to own up to an error and to find a solution. Again, emotions can get ahead of us and prevent a quick resolve of the situation. Be honest and forthright with your clients and colleagues. Mistakes happen, but solutions happen, too. It is how we address the mistake and how quickly we can provide solutions that differentiates us from others. Do not hide from negativity – walk towards it, address it, and move forward.

Addressing mistakes provides a leadership moment. Show your colleagues your courage to take control and show the path forward. You will become a critical member of the team and a role model for others.

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