Dealing with workplace snafus
If I had a superpower, you know what would I do? I would undo every mistake, erase the memory of every embarrassment which made me look like a complete idiot.
Seriously, there are moments when I look back and think- How on earth did I let that happen? What the hell was I thinking?
The feeling is awful — You constantly obsess about what happened and the pain is crippling like that of an exposed nerve of a cavity infected tooth!
It drains your self-confidence, eats your guts from inside and makes you feel like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. All you want to do is to either wear a cloak of invisibility or fly off to a distant planet.
Been there, wallowed in crap.
I’m sure you would have had your own fair share of embarrassing mistakes too. Feeling like a total idiot is only one part of the equation. However, there are really simple things one could do to recover from those mistakes-
1. Admit it, wholeheartedly
There are two kinds of acceptance- One which clearly shows that you feel terrible and you regret doing it.
And the other an insincere unapologetic apology. Like “I am sorry if I have hurt you”. Or The famous corporatese bullshit – “we regret if it caused any inconvenience”. Or admitting that you made a mistake with a carefully veiled but accompanied with a boatload of rationalizations – “I am sorry, but…”
Withut intent. Without regret. Like you are merely saying sorry for the sake of it.
Instead, you should admit mistakes with a heartfelt apology. No ifs. No buts. No putting it on your dystopian alter-ego that blindfolded your logical vision.
Something like – “I’m sorry I screwed up.” Or, “I’m sorry that my lack of attention to detail led to this failure”. Or, anything straightforward which makes the other person feel that you are taking responsibility for the mistake. Sincerely.
2. Face the mistake head on
We sometimes do not approach fixing our mistake head on. We assume that time would automatically let people magically forgive and forget our mistake. This kind of thinking is far worse than making the mistake in the first place as it shows complete lack of empathy.
We have to communicate to those affected by our mistake, regarding how are we going to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. And then follow it up with timely action. And if the action plan is long drawn then communicating the remedial steps at every major milestone.
Communicating the action plan does not only give a signal that we are on top of rectifying the mistake but shows that we care. People generally forget the mistakes or how you apologized but always remember how you dealt with them. It’s the only thing that helps in rebuilding trust. Period.
3. Find the lesson
Too bad, mistakes don’t come with a log file and stack trace. But they do come with a lesson. And the important thing is not to lose that lesson.
If there are occasional bouts of slip-ups here and there, they are likely to be quickly forgiven—and forgotten. No one has the time in the world to keep a log book of all our mistakes. That’s part of Chitragupta’s job, the Karma logger.
I know life would be much simpler if we made any kind of mistake only once, apologized sincerely for it, fixed it without anyone having to tell us to do so and promise to never repeat the same mistakes. But the reality is different. We are creatures of habit. And sometimes we end up making similar mistakes despite best intentions.
So what’s the bottom line? We are allowed to make mistakes- after all, we all need stories of #iScrewedUp to exaggerate to our children.
Nevertheless, just remember your mistakes are there to guide you, not define you.
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