“The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.”

These wise words from a popular saying should always be kept in mind. Statistics show that it’s impossible to never make mistakes: the only thing we can do is pay more attention so as to minimise future setbacks.

But what should we do if the mistake turns out to be bigger than expected?

Acknowledge the mistake and apologise

The first step is obviously awareness: assess the consequences of the mistake on the team and the company, acknowledge your responsibility and address the affected colleagues in a transparent manner.

In these cases a sincere apology is required, so don’t make excuses or act defensive. Give clarifications if necessary and show that you understand where and how you went wrong, in order to improve in the future.

Be proactive and learn from your mistake

Your apology, as mentioned in the previous point, should demonstrate not only regret, but also proactivity. Explain the causes of the mistake and how you intend to correct it (if possible), also indicating how you intend to repair the damage, if needed, to the colleagues involved. Then go on to communicate the precautions you have taken to prevent it from happening again.

In this way you will be able to lay a solid foundation for the future, showing yourself to be a responsible person and making the mistake a one-off event even in the eyes of others.

Start again with low-risk projects

Trust and credibility are not gained in a day, a week or a month: it takes time and a lot of patience, especially when the consequences of the mistake have been serious.

Take charge of your projects head-on making yourself available to others right from the start for small tasks. Over time, by maintaining good and consistent results, you can regain the trust of your colleagues and manager and earn back important assignments.

Show compassion when it happens to others

We would like to conclude this short list of tips by once again quoting popular wisdom: ‘He who sows the wind, reaps the whirlwind’. Translated into business terms, if you behave badly with colleagues, they will most likely do the same to you.

If a person in your team makes a mistake, avoid criticising them, mocking them or gossiping behind their back. Instead, show compassion and offer your help: cultivating a good relationship with colleagues has positive effects on the whole work sphere and builds mutual trust!

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