How to handle your big mistake at work

“Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes” – Confucius

Even the best and most meticulous professionals have experienced that panicky heart beat after identifying an error.  That heart beat rapidly worsens once you discover it’s your fault and the mistake was caused by you or someone you’re responsible for. You repeatedly think;

  • How does this affect production and/or service?
  • What’s the worst that could happen?
  • Could I lose my job over this?

The best solution in this situation is undoubtedly to tell the truth. Own up to your slip-up, brainstorm solutions and/or alternatives, offer a sincere apology, and promise yourself to use this as an opportunity to learn.

Take the 2 500 year old advice of Confucius:

A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it is committing another mistake.

This could be a blessing in disguise too because erring on the job produces a platform that enables you to leave a lasting impression of yourself upon your superiors. Handling the situation effectively and with a mature attitude reflects positively on your character – especially if you’re trying to build a long term career.

On the other hand, throwing mini tantrums, shifting the blame, and arrogant excuses negatively affects the overall perception your manager will have of you – and try to remember that you may require her reference if you ever want to find other employment.  How you handle an error says less about your work competency and more about your professionalism, both of which is important if you plan to excel in your career. Recover Gracefully.

Strong people make as many mistakes as weak people. Difference is that strong people admit their mistakes, laugh at them, learn from them. That is how they become strong.