Just read a great blog post written by Ron Edmondson “7 Ways to Recover from a Major Failure or Mistake.” It got me thinking about those little mistakes we make from time to time that cause embarrassment or upset to someone. I’m considering things like forgetting an appointment, running late for an important event or breaking something. Sometimes those little mistakes can add up and cause chasms in relationships or be tracked in work performance. How about those?
Here’s a 3 step process to deal with minor mistakes:
- Admit the mistake and apologize. Never defend a mistake.
- Quickly come up with the solution or be willing to work towards a solution.
- Once situation is fixed, forget about it.
Sounds simple, but often I have witnessed people become defensive on a minor mistake as an automatic reaction. This shines a spotlight on the smallest of offenses. I’ve watched, as people defend themselves, the minor mistake grow and morph like the Incredible Hulk. Don’t do this, train your mind to apologize even if you feel you didn’t make a mistake. There’s nothing more embarrassing than defending yourself to the point the other person backs down and then find out they are right.
I could share lots of stories of the early days in my career where I would argue down someone if they accused me of a minor mistake. I got tired of eating crow after the fact. Getting into the habit of owning up, apologizing and fixing the problem at hand has kept the little mistakes little – even if I didn’t make the mistake!