Do This When You Make a Mistake

Screws up are bound to happen in the workplace. Perhaps you accidentally ate Karen’s banana bread or failed to attach an important file in an email reply. Of course, it could be something worse, a costly mishap that could hurt the company’s bottom-line, public image or credibility. No matter how big your workplace snafu is, it is how you handle the apology, and what you do in the aftermath that will make a huge difference.

You’re probably wrecking your nerves on what to do and say to make it go away. If you are sailing on this boat, don’t sweat it. Here’s a six-step strategic plan for what to do and say when you make a mistake at work. Follow through to salvage your credibility and perhaps your job.

1: Take Some Time (Not Too Long) To Feel Guilty and Awful about the Mistake

It’s only natural to feel embarrassed, distressed, and even frustrated soon after making a mistake. It usually lasts between 10 and 15 seconds. However, the feeling of guilt can linger longer than 15 seconds.

If you’re stuck in the state where the emotions keep building up, you might want to give yourself some time to release the steam in a healthy way. It should be the soonest, however, so you can move to the next step without further delay.

2: Keep a Clear Perspective of Things

It can be quite challenging to keep a straight mind when you’re embarrassed and upset with yourself. Nonetheless, it is crucial that you don’t dwell on it for long, and get things into perspective as soon as possible. Unless you made a life-threatening error, the mistake can be rectified or resolved immediately and without much hassle.

3: Think about your Worst-Case-Scenario

Every mistake has its ramifications, but your mind often races and might distort or exaggerate possible consequences. So, you ate your coworker’s banana bread — you don’t need to beat yourself up the whole day for it. The trick is to confront your mistake’s worst-case scenario and then let it go. The sooner you let it go the better it is for your health, productivity, and overall well-being.

4: Give a Sincere Apology 

If you think an apology is warranted, make it quick and genuine. While it might sound dandy, a short “I am sorry, my bad” can do the trick. You don’t have to give justifications or excuses; just plainly apologize.

5: Think of Ways to Prevent Such Mistake in the Future

Assess what you need to improve or do differently in the future to ensure the mistake doesn’t recur. If your evaluation yields an issue you can address, do so pronto. You can also tell your seniors how you’re going to avoid such mistake in the future.

6: Make Sure to Take Good Care of Yourself

Most mistakes occur due to poor problem-solving skills or lack of concentration, focus, alertness, or reasoning. More often than not, they happen because you’re sleep deprived. So, get enough good night’s sleep, eat healthfully, exercise regularly, and take up mindful meditation.