How to Properly Handle an Office Mistake

It's not a matter of "if" you will make a mistake at work, it's only a question of "when," and how you handle the blunder says a great deal about your character and good judgment.
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It's not a matter of "if" you will make a mistake at work, it's only a question of "when," and how you handle the blunder says a great deal about your character and good judgment. Conducting yourself with integrity and honesty shows your coworkers and boss you are driven to do the right thing. Here a few tips for the next time you make an office faux pas:

  • Remain calm. Resist the urge to leap immediately into damage control. Spend a few minutes determining the most appropriate next steps. One mistake can easily snowball if you proceed in a panic.

  • Admit the mistake. Waiting and hoping your mistake goes unnoticed is a recipe for disaster if someone discovers it first. A major incident needs to be addressed and dealt with by notifying the proper channels.
  • Avoid the urge to pass the buck. Even if the screw-up was squarely on the shoulders of someone else, if you are a supervisor and it happened on your watch, it's on you. Identify ways to keep it from reoccurring in the future, and clearly communicate the message to your entire team.
  • Apologize. However prompt and professional you are in trying to fix your error, an apology is still important. Whether it's to coworkers, a client, or your supervisor, a verbal and authentic apology conveys sincerity and regret over any inconvenience the mistake may have caused. It also displays humility and strength of character.
  • Decide who needs to get involved. Discussing your mistake with coworkers who are not in a position to fix the problem only wastes valuable time. Strategically choose those who need to know, and request their input and assistance.
  • Move ahead. The perfectionists among us can be easily crushed by a setback. Do what is needed to recover, review the lesson learned, then shake it off and move forward. While a professional blunder is never pleasant, it can be used as a powerful and motivational training tool.
    • Stop talking about it. It is human nature to drone on and on about a mistake that caused embarrassment to yourself and others. Fight the urge to ruminate, and put your energy into a conversation that will result in a successful outcome. You will definitely be remembered by your last mistake if you keep reminding everyone about it!

    For more tips read, Business Etiquette: Rebounding from Failure. Visit Diane's blog, connect with her here on The Huffington Post, follow her on Pinterest and, "like" The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook.

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