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How to Deal with Making Mistakes

When you have made a mistake do you:

  • try to cover it up?
  • blame someone else?
  • pretend it wasn’t you?
  • own it and deal with it?

We all make mistakes, some are minor and some more major but how we deal with these will be influenced by how we feel about ourselves, others and life.

If we attempt to cover up our mistake then we are likely to feel bad about ourselves and become stressed in case someone should find it out. Blaming someone else can lead to bad feelings from others leading to distrust and disrespect. Blaming won’t help us to feel better about ourselves either. The option of pretending it wasn’t our fault, even though we don’t know whose it was, is another cover up and won’t help our self-respect or trust from others, as they tend to get to know who can deal with things and who can’t.

So what is left? The only way to deal with mistakes is to own them and take action to put it right. I learnt this lesson many years ago when someone I knew did something that undid a lot of work I had done. I challenged him on this and he agreed that he had messed up and offered to put it right - which he did. This was the first time anyone had been big enough to say they were wrong and my estimation of him went up. Today I take his lead. If I make a mistake I say so, keeping myself and other people okay. By dealing with issues as they arise it means that I sleep well at night.

Today’s organisations need employees to be creative and inspired but this cannot happen unless the organisation is also prepared for people to make mistakes. If there is a supportive culture employees are more likely to take calculated risks for the benefit of the organisation. Keeping pace with, if not ahead of the field is necessary today and to do this employees will need to work together to create and grow.

Is your organisation a supportive one or one where you are disinclined to “put your head above the parapet”? If it is the latter then creativity will be stymied and productivity will lessen.

It’s not how we make mistakes, but how we correct them that defines us
(Rachel Wolchin -

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