How to Save Face When You Make a Ghastly Mistake

Makingmistakes  
As 2010 comes to a close, various “Top 10” lists start making the news. Top 10 Headlines. Top 10 Influential People. Top 10 Sports Memories.

There is even a Top 10 Public Relations Blunders List issued by a prominent San Francisco PR firm that features botched product recalls, free speech fallout, and one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. These blunders indicate that ghastly mistakes happen on the job everyday and everywhere.

But what happens when you make a ghastly mistake at work? How will you recover, especially when you are the new kid on the block? When you make a mistake, here are four tips that will help you save face and possibly your job.

Admit your mistake. This might be the hardest step, but admitting you made a mistake is necessary. When you own up to your oversight, your co-workers are more likely to forgive you. They will probably even pitch in to help you correct your error. Blaming others won’t correct the situation nor will it make the problem go away. Instead, playing the blame game will only waste precious time and will most likely upset your co-workers.

Regain your composure. You won’t be able to logically correct your misstep until you regain your composure. Remain calm and try to retrace your steps. This will help you identify where things went wrong.

Tell your supervisor. It’s imperative to inform your supervisor of your mistake first. It is better that your supervisor hears the news from you than a co-worker or a customer.

Develop a corrective action plan. Work with your supervisor to develop a plan to help change or fix the situation. Despite your blunder, working on an action plan will demonstrate to your supervisor that he or she made the right decision in hiring you. Pay attention to details as you work through your action plan and offer to be responsible for carrying out the plan.

Because we’re all human, mistakes are bound to happen. The key is to take responsibility for the mistakes you make, and most importantly, learn and grow from them. As someone once said, “If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t doing anything.” So the next time you mess up at work, take it in stride and see it as the opportunity it is, to learn from the mistakes you make.

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