Making a mistake at work is inevitable. Whether it’s because of burnout, lack of attention, misinformation, being under-qualified, etc. But what do you do after making the mistake without making it worse? We’re sharing 6 tips, here.

Allow Yourself to Feel Bad

After making a mistake at work, the natural immediate reaction is to feel disappointed, embarrassed or frustrated. And this is completely normal and totally fine! It’s important to acknowledge how you feel, especially if it was an honest mistake that was made. However, avoid letting this feeling fester. Allow yourself to experience the emotions, and then switch gears; like acknowledging the mistake and developing a solution.

Acknowledge the Mistake

The next step after making a mistake is acknowledging it, and addressing it. If you try to brush it under the rug or wait until someone else acknowledges it – the situation could get worse. By owning up to the mistake and apologizing (if necessary) to the appropriate party, you display proactiveness and responsibility. In addition, the sooner you express the issue – the less time you allow yourself to stress and worry.

Consider the Worst-Case- Scenario

Oftentimes when we make a mistake, our minds tend to exaggerate the situation. When this happens, analyze what the actual worst-case scenario could be and then let it go. For example, if the worst thing that will happen is you get fired, you can use it as a learning opportunity and (you guessed it) find another job. However, if this is an outlier situation and you usually do great work – you may just have a discussion with your manager on how to find a solution to the problem to avoid it from happening in the future.

Forgive Yourself

Once you’ve acknowledged the mistake and came up with a solution to fix it – forgive yourself and let it go. Letting the negative feelings linger only affects your future performance. Remind yourself that mistakes happen, you’ve come up with a solution, and you’re moving on.

Redeem Yourself (Cautiously)

One of the best ways to build trust and reliability is by consistently showing up, and delivering. If you are constantly doing great work, following through and sticking to your commitments, then when there are mistakes that occur- the consequences aren’t as critical. Doing great work holds a lot of weight, so remember this for the future.

Consider it a Learning Opportunity

“As long as they are well-intentioned, mistakes are not a matter for shame, but for learning”. —Margaret Heffernan. When mistakes happen, one of the best ways to turn it into a positive is to find the learning opportunity.  In doing this you learn how to avoid making the mistake in the future, learning how or why it happened, and also setting an example in the workplace for other people in the office to avoid making that mistake themselves as well.


How have you come back from making a mistake at work?