We all make mistakes now and then. Sometimes it’s a relatively small mistake, like a couple of typos in a report. Other times it’s a larger mistake, such as losing an important client. Yet while it’s understandable to want to beat yourself up about it or perhaps even make excuses for why it happened, there’s really only one constructive course of action — to own your mistakes.
The benefits of owning your mistakes
Making a mistake doesn’t feel good — but if you don’t handle the situation well, it can get much worse. For example, if you keep berating yourself, you’ll have a hard time moving past it. You might even lose some of your self-confidence. On the other hand, if you habitually try to shift the blame to something or someone else, it can result in tension in the workplace.
In contrast, when you own your mistakes, you demonstrate integrity and accountability. Your supervisor and colleagues see that you’re honest and prepared to take responsibility for your actions. That will likely make them respect you more. In addition, they’ll perceive you as a better worker — someone they can count on. Plus, they’ll be more prepared to help you correct your mistakes so you can turn them into learning opportunities.
How to own your mistakes
So how do you go about owning your mistakes?
In the article “3 Ways Owning Your Mistakes Will Make you Powerful” for Entrepreneur, Matthew Toren states that owning a mistake involves the following process:
Recognize your mistake.
In other words, don’t avoid it. If you look at your work and it doesn’t seem quite right, it’s best if you realize you’ve made a mistake before someone else does.
Devise a solution.
Figure out how you can amend the mistake, so it delivers as closely as possible on the original promise. For example, if you’ve missed a deadline, determine how quickly you can realistically provide the delivered product.
Inform the people who will be impacted by the mistake.
Tell your supervisor and co-workers about the mistake. Unless they ask for a reason, it’s best to avoid going into details, because that sounds like you’re making excuses.
Present the solution.
Explain what your alternative solution is and see if they find it satisfactory. If not, discuss other options until you settle on something that works for everyone involved.
Once a solution has been decided upon, it’s critical to execute it so you don’t disappoint again. If you need assistance, ask for it.
Nobody’s perfect — and that means you’re going to make mistakes now and then. But if you own up to them and remedy them correctly, they can help you become a more respected, dependable and resourceful worker.