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April 03, 2017 | 5 min read
Make A Mistake At Work? 4 Ways To Bounce Back

No one is immune to mistakes, both in their personal and professional lives. While it is a comfort to know that everyone has the occasional slip-up at work, the gravity of this misstep can vary. While some mistakes are much worse than others, failing to address them efficiently and properly can have a lasting impact on your career.

When you create an unintended conflict at work, it can be difficult to know how to react properly. To ensure you do not make matters worse than they could have been, here are 4 ways to clear the air and move on with grace:

Collect yourself

When you first realize you’ve made a costly mistake, you’ll want to take a step back and not let your emotions take over. You may feel the need to react viscerally, but remember, there are many other ways to show you take your work seriously.  Demonstrating you care is important, but not at the expense of making a bad situation even worse.

Before reaching out to the effected parties, take some time alone to yourself to strategize how you’re going to approach the situation. Regardless of where your first instincts take you, you’ll want to take a deep breath and calm down before you do or say something you might regret.


Once you’ve decided on how you’re going to repair the damage, it’s important to personally apologize for any issues you may have caused. Apologizing is never easy, but demonstrating humility and owning up to your actions, is crucial to moving forward. It’s always best to apologize face-to-face to the person or people who may have been impacted by your mistake, but if that option is unavailable, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or send an email expressing your apologies. There’s still more work to do, but this is a good step in the right direction!

Accept the consequences

There may or may not be consequences for your actions. The worst case scenario would be having to resign or being let go, but it could also involve getting written up by Human Resources or being placed on probation. Whatever it may be, your best bet is to humbly accept the type of reprimand you receive. Of course, you could dispute these consequences when they are determined, but doing so can make it seem as if you aren’t truly apologetic and you are just trying to save face. In order to demonstrate your commitment to rectifying the situation, accept that your actions have consequences that should be addressed.

Act fast

Once you have found a solution, it’s important to act as quickly as possible in order to achieve it. While you may have other responsibilities you need to handle, but addressing a situation that affects other people becomes your first priority if you’re the cause of any problems. Don’t refrain from asking for help if you must, but this is the type of situation where it’s best if you’re able to go it alone. While you may feel overwhelmed by just how much you need to do in order to fix your mistakes, it serves as a good learning lesson and can ultimately serve to benefit you in the future!

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