We all enjoy sharing about our successes at work. Maybe you repaired something in record time or a customer gave you rave reviews, whatever the achievement - it feels good to share the things that we do well in. But when we fail? Definitely not moments we enjoy talking about.
Whether you miscalculated the numbers on a project causing a major delay, sent an email to the wrong list of subscribers, or forgot to follow through with an important step of a safety procedure – the embarrassment of failing can affect you in a number of ways: mentally, emotionally, even physically.
While you’d probably rather go hide behind a desk, ignore the mistake, or call in sick for a few days, taking time to discuss your error and explore what caused it not only helps create a more trusting and productive environment, but opens lines of communication that ultimately help you improve.
It might be the last thing you want to do, but starting a conversation with your supervisor, boss, or even coworkers gives everyone an opportunity to grow. Instead of emailing or texting, initiate a conversation face-to-face: each person will be able to better read body language and tone, something that can be lost or misunderstood when over the phone or on the computer.
While your mistake or incident may have been frustrating, view this as an opportunity to become better. All you need to do is ask, “Could you help me with this?” Frame the scenario in a positive light, admit to your mistake, and seek guidance for improvement. By doing this, you create a space that allows for you and your confidant to consider the moment as a time for help, rather than judgment.
By sharing your honest failures with your peers, you begin to break down walls. Researchers have found that when people talk about failure with one another, they begin to build closer relationships. Because let’s face it, we’ve all been on that boat.
When you find that you’ve done something that could have been done better or even just flat out wrong, you’ve just discovered exactly how not to do something. Now, make sure you don’t do it again. By figuring out firsthand what simply does not work, you can think of steps or actions that do work and discuss how they may work better. Learn from your mistakes, talk about those mistakes, and help other people learn from them so they aren’t made again.
Be smart about the way you bring up bumbles at work. It’s important to be respectful around the consequences of your actions, but showing that you are genuinely concerned about how to prevent the same thing from happening again can be a strong quality in many employers’ eyes.