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These bumps in the road are a normal part of work, but if you manage them poorly, they can reduce your level of trustworthiness and damage your reputation.
As we start heading back into the office and figuring out what our “new normal” will be, the likelihood of miscommunications and mistakes is high. With everything in a state of flux, you are almost guaranteed to encounter moments of misalignment.
Once you are aware of the mistake you have made, try to get in front of the situation before it spirals.
Being proactive about addressing whatever took place demonstrates your awareness of the problem and relieves others from the potential discomfort of bringing it to your attention.
Offer a genuine and humble apology, acknowledging your error and the harm you caused to the other person, team, or the business.
Don’t be defensive or make your apology about yourself. What other people care about is your impact, not your intent.
For example, don’t respond by saying, "I am sorry if you feel that way." Using the word “if” in your apology implies the other person is being irrational or overly sensitive. It does not show any ownership of your wrongdoing.
While it is an act of integrity and accountability to admit and apologize for your error, you will only rebuild trust if you correct the behavior or issue.
Share what you learned, how it’s going to be different, and commit to doing better. You may need to work hard to change your behavior and correct the situation. But without the correction, any apology is worthless, and people will only grow more cynical.
Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives in our minds, meaning people remember your faults more than your strengths. This negativity bias means it’s essential to take action and not shrink back after making a mistake.
Find ways to position yourself in front of people and demonstrate progress on the issue to rebuild trust and shift perceptions.
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