How to Recoup from a Mistake at the Office

Let’s face it; everyone makes office mistakes, but when you’re the one whose guffaw has them on the proverbial chopping block, clichés are weak. Instead of trying to soothe yourself with tired platitudes, there are active steps you can take to restore your reputation and boost your confidence. Studies show that people who take action after they’ve been knocked down have less anxiety and higher self-esteem than people who don’t. But what’s the most effective way to own up to and move on from office mistakes? Read on for some quick and efficient survival tips.

  1. Quickly Apologize

Yes, you need to apologize to the appropriate party, but do it quickly! Don’t get too verbose with the listener by coming up with excuses, or wordy justifications. Usually, all you need to say is, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake, but I’m fixing it.”

People usually don’t want to hear why you did or didn’t do something. Going around in circles, justifying, and making up excuses because you’re anxious and embarrassed will only annoy them. Plus, you may even get yourself into more hot water with too much information. Your associates just want a sincere apology and an assurance that whatever problems you’ve created will be solved. 

Related: Is your Assistant Overspending on Office Supplies?

  1. Don’t Wallow

It’s okay to mourn or feel guilty, embarrassed, or angry after you mess up. These are justifiable, human emotions to adverse events. The key to is not to spend too much time wallowing in or expressing negative feelings. You have to move on and take action to fix the problem.

If you spend too much time feeling down and out about something, people will start to take a dim view of your character. Their trust in you will be further shaken when you wallow in self-pity for too long. They may begin to see you as immature or incapable of fixing the problem. And if you screwed up and caused them harm, you should be the one comforting them. But if you’re feeling cynical and sad for an inordinate amount of time, they’ll feel obligated to comfort you, and this will really annoy even the most patient coworker or boss.

While you may think that your mistake is the ultimate work-relationship destroyer, people are more interested in what you do after the error. Take decisive action, and it will restore some of the trust they may have lost in you.

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  1. Take Action

Do what you can within reason to fix or rectify the situation your mistake has caused at the office and to prevent it from happening again. For example, if your error occurred because you weren’t organized or didn’t write down a critical memo and forgot to tell your boss something crucial, make necessary changes as a preventative measure.

While you may be devastated and humiliated by a mistake at work, don’t let it get you down. People genuinely care more about what happens after the error. Their trust in you can be restored if you make a quick apology, take action, and don’t let your negative emotions cloud your ability to remedy the problem. 

Remember, every path to success has a few setbacks. Try reading these Celebrity Quotes for inspiration as you get back on track.