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How to Handle Making a Mistake at Work

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People often panic when they make a mistake at work as they fear the possible consequences they could face. They usually end up making poor decisions due to lack of experience or by allowing their emotions to get the better of them. This could further escalate the problem and cause severe damage to the individual's career and to the employer. This article share steps you can take if you make a mistake at work so that you can handle the situation promptly and professionally.


We are all human and it is easy for even the most experienced of professionals to make a mistake at some point in their career. The way you respond and how well you handle things afterwards could help you to rectify the mistake you made or at the very least help to minimize the damage caused. You could regain your confidence which may be left badly shaken after the event and improve your image at work by showing good problem-solving skills that you have.

When you make a mistake at work try the following:

Manage your emotions:

There are a number of emotions that you could go through when you make a mistake at work. You feel embarrassed, scared and you may even be angry at yourself. If you have made a crucial mistake that could potentially harm someone or the company you work for it is important to act as quickly as you can and inform someone. If this is not the case then take some time to calm yourself and manage your emotions so that you can think clearly and rationally about what to do next.

Try to fix things:

Before you inform anyone of the mistake you have made you should fully assess the extent of the situation. Is the mistake something that you can fix on your own or do you need someone else's help? If you are able to fix the mistake then quickly do so. You could contain the damage and end up improving your image at work. Inform your boss afterwards of the mistake you made and also how you fixed it too. If you can't fix the mistake then inform only those who need to know.


Ask for help:

The fear of people judging you could prevent you from asking for help but if you really need help then overcome your fears and ask for it. Inform only those who could genuinely help or those who could face major consequences due to your mistake. Your boss is someone who should be informed if this is the case. Explain to them truthfully and accurately about what has happened and what you tried to do to fix the problem. Asking for help could give you much needed support.

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Honesty is the best policy:

Being upfront and honest about the mistake you made takes courage. Blaming the mistake on other people or making excuses will show your boss that not only are you deflecting blame but that you are ignorant of the harm you may have caused. Take full responsibility for your actions without grovelling or being too defensive. If you lie the chances are that you will be caught out sooner or later. You may not be fired for the mistake that you made but you may well be for lying.

Offer solutions:

Apologizing and leaving others to deal with the aftermath is a mistake to avoid. This could damage work relations and create friction in the workplace. Take the opportunity instead to offer solutions to the problem. You could demonstrate that you are a resourceful individual who has great problem-solving skills. If you are unable to offer an solutions then try and help out as much as you can. It will help ease your guilt and show that you are committed to your work.

Learn and move on:

Try to understand what led you to make the mistake and what you could do in future to avoid something similar happening. This could be a chance for you to learn and improve yourself so see what lessons you could learn from this experience. Being too hard on yourself will badly damage your self-esteem and make it difficult to move on. Accept that you made a mistake and the consequences of the mistake and try to avoid being in the same situation again in future.


Show your value:

Making a mistake can greatly shake your confidence and put doubts in your mind about your capability. Instead of focusing on this you should try to look at the many positive things you have contributed to your work. Evaluate your strengths and
weaknesses and try to contribute as much as you can. Just because you made one mistake does not mean that you are of no value to your workplace. Improve your productivity and try to deliver consistent good results.


Once a mistake has been made it is crucial that you take the right steps so that you can better control the situation and minimize the damage caused. Many people are simply unprepared for handling mistakes at work which is why they usually make poor decisions which end up creating bigger problems. This article has shared some steps that you should take when you make a mistake at work so that you can remedy the situation and help redeem your reputation in the workplace.

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