How to admit your mistakes at work

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mistakes at work

How to admit your mistakes at work

Mistakes in work are unavoidable and even useful. It’s a pity that the bosses rarely pat us on the shoulder for this way of gaining experience. How to admit mistakes without harming your career?


1. Postpone the explanation. Yes, you have an unpleasant conversation. Yes, the temptation is great to play for time, hoping that everything will somehow work out by itself, and even better – that no one will know about your mistake. But remember: the real probability that your boss will not notice your mistake is close to zero. It is better to tell the manager about the problem yourself than to wait for attentive colleagues to do it.

2. Prepare for the fact that your manager will criticise you. “This is initially the position of a child who is naughty, and now the parents will give him a “butch,” explains William Bright, a professional psychologist and coach. – The business world is, after all, the world of adults. Therefore, it is important not to take the position of a victim, but an adult’s position: prepare yourself mentally for a constructive conversation with a leader and not tune in to swearing – otherwise you will get it. “

3. Interrupt and argue. Give your boss the right to be in a bad mood. Do not try to cool his ardour with the words “Don’t worry so much” or “Calm down, please.” Such phrases only betray the fear and annoy the interlocutor even more. “When a person is angry and makes accusations, it is important to understand that it is not you personally who is the cause of his emotions, but the situation that has formed,” says William. – It will help you not to take anger to heart and not be effaced. Put yourself in the shoes of a leader: he has a lot more responsibility. Understand him, sympathise; You can say about your experiences like this: “I see that it annoys you, and if I were you, I would be annoyed too!” With this phrase, you show interest in his psychological discomfort, helping relieve tension during the conversation. “

4. Get involved in self-criticism. If you suffer from a guilt complex, it will be easy to hang on you even those mistakes that you did not commit. Therefore, take responsibility only for your omissions. You don’t need to sprinkle ashes on your head and endure all the antics of an angry leader: if you feel that the person does not control himself, it is better to postpone the conversation, honestly saying that you are not ready to continue. This will help you maintain self-respect and professional authority in the eyes of your boss.

5. Shifting responsibility onto others. Only talk about your mistakes. Everything that is outside your competence is a reason for a separate conversation in the presence of all responsible persons

You can and should

1. Notice and admit mistakes in time. If you noticed a problem and immediately went to the boss to discuss the ways of resolving it, this will tell about you as a responsible and serious employee who really cares about the company. Also, much less damage will be done to your self-esteem if your boss arranges a blast without witnesses. If you initiate the conversation yourself, most likely you will.

2. Prepare. Not only to a difficult conversation but also to discuss ways out of the situation. Prepare an explanation of why the error occurred, and demonstrate an intention to understand the problem. “Go to talk with full armament: the situation from all sides, risks, decisions, arguments,” advises William. – We remember that this is an adult conversation, so the conversation should be conducted with full responsibility and honesty. Describe everything as it is, admit that you feel guilty about what happened, and offer solutions. “

3. Ask for advice. The leader knows better how to act correctly from a business point of view. Ask him what he thinks about the problem and what solution seems to be the most suitable for him. By such a request, you show that you value his opinion, and quickly move on to the more enjoyable part of the debriefing – the discussion of the way out of the situation.

4. Learn the lesson. Be sure to focus on what experience you have gained in this situation, how it will be useful in the future, in which you will do everything to avoid such oversights. These should not be empty words. After talking to your boss, think again about the problem and its causes and consequences. You may need to seriously change the way you work so that the mistake doesn’t repeat.

5. Continue to fulfil your job responsibilities. There is no need to “make amends” by loading yourself with additional volumes of work. Continue to do your best, strive to achieve high performance and avoid mistakes. Your diligence will be appreciated, and mistakes will be remembered as the company’s history, and not your failures.