The question is not what should we do if we make a mistake, but when we make a mistake. Mistakes are normal, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the issue. Here are seven things to do to restore your life and relationships when you realize you’ve made a mistake.
1. Own It
No one likes to be wrong or to make a mistake. The experience is uncomfortable and wounds our pride. Pride often leads to denial, pretending it didn’t happen, making excuses, or avoiding the situation which resulted from our mistake.
If we are to respond appropriately to our mistakes, the first thing we must do is accept responsibility. We are responsible for our actions, no matter the intention behind them.
When I was in high school, I worked at a fast-food restaurant. As occasionally happens, I wrung up a promotion incorrectly. The person was livid with me for the overcharge that resulted. While their response to my mistake was excessive, I had to make a decision. I could either blame it on the customer, proclaiming they weren’t clear in their order, or I could admit that I indeed made a mistake.
The above is a simple example, but depending on when and how the mistake occurs, you may have only a moment to determine your response before being confronted. Had I chosen denial at that moment, the problem could have escalated quickly and resulted in consequences beyond correcting the charge on the cash register.
Admitting we are responsible for making a mistake is crucial in our response to making a mistake.
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