How to Admit Your Mistakes

9 March, 2013

How to Admit Your Mistakes

Mistakes: we all make them – right? No one likes admitting them.

Admitting you made a mistake can be a challenge if you afraid of “losing face”. However, in the eyes of other people, a person who can admit to mistakes and move on from them is more likely to garner respect than someone who blusters and pretends they weren’t responsible.

So what’s the best way to get around these situations when a mistake occurs?

- Act quickly.

You can’t change mistakes, but you can choose how to respond to them. As soon as you realize the mistake, communicate with those who will be affected by it.

- Take responsibility.

Yet who hasn’t run across people in business who find it impossible to admit when they do make a mistake by deflecting blame elsewhere?!

Instead of pointing fingers, aim your focus on what you can do to prevent the situation from reoccurring.

- Apologize!

So you messed up. Big. Just say it: “I’m sorry.”  This seems to be the hardest part for some people. They can explain their mistake and take action to prevent it from happening again, but saying “I’m sorry” is taking off the armor and opening up to . . . what? What is the worst thing that can happen?!

And when possible, apologize in person. It’s a lot harder than sending an email; but it will speak volumes about the sincerity of your apology and the strength of your character. When the people you need to apologize to are not within close proximity, a phone call is better than email. However, if you need to apologize to a large group, sometimes email really is the best solution.

- Explain what happened.

The full explanation is important, because we can’t make positive change unless we understand what truly happened.

- How it happened..

Make assurances that you are taking steps to prevent the mistake from happening again by investigating how and why an error occurred, then you can fix the faulty procedure or process.

We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. Yes, you should examine what you did wrong so you can do better in the future, but don’t dwell or beat yourself up too hard over it. MOVE ON.

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