How to Recover From Making Mistakes

Newsflash: we all make mistakes. None of us is perfect. And if you spend all your time being worried about making mistakes, you will be paralyzed with fear and indecision.  So you are going to do and say the wrong things at least once in a while in your life, or make the wrong decisions.

The question is not whether you will make mistakes, but how you will recover from them. Here are some tips on how you can recover from making mistakes:

Take a deep breath: It is easy to get flustered when you mess up, but you should try not to compound one mistake with another.  Unless it is something that must be corrected immediately or it will put people in danger, try to take a deep breath, or count to ten, before doing anything else.

Own up to your mistake:  This means not just acknowledging it, but accepting responsibility, and not blaming others. Sometimes, mistakes that are not acknowledged or discovered can end up causing even more issues. It is also important to take your own responsibility for the mistake.  Blaming others, especially in the workplace, will get you nowhere.

Say you’re sorry, if appropriate: If it’s a small mistake, a simple “Sorry about that” is sufficient, if needed at all. If your mistake is a doozy, you will need a bigger apology. Now is not the time for a passive “I’m sorry if somebody was offended” sort of non-apology apology. This area can be a huge minefield. Too many people try to be slick and not really apologize, but that simply will not do.

Fix the mistake, if you can: If the mistake is something that you can rectify, then do so. If not, you will have to live with it and learn from it. Life coach experts say that you can learn valuable lessons more from what you did wrong than what you did right.

Learn from your mistake: If this is the first time you have made this mistake, examine why you made it, so you can learn from it. In many cases, that mistake will be so seared in your memory so that you will not make the mistake again. Interestingly enough, some supervisors will say that they don’t have problems with staff members making mistakes, but they don’t want to see staff make the same mistake more than once.

If you have made the mistake multiple times, examine why:  There could be a fix that you need to make that you need to in order to keep making the same mistake. If you haven’t learned the first time, you need to adjust what you are doing to stop making the mistake.

Move on:  After following the above advice, move on and stop beating yourself up. Don’t be the type of person who is still agonizing over mistakes made 15 years ago.

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