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How to apologize for messing up at work

Suggest a fix

Taking responsibility means doing whatever you can to repair the problem. 

Tell your boss anything you have done already to try to fix the problem. If you have other suggestions, lay them out. Work closely with your supervisor to understand better how to solve the situation.

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How to apologize for messing up at work

How to apologize for messing up at work

https://www.fastcompany.com/90362314/how-to-apologize-for-a-mistake-at-work

fastcompany.com

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Key Ideas

Messing up at work

Overcoming mistakes at work starts with a difficult conversation.

Though it may not seem like it, your aim is actually to increase the amount of trust you get from your boss. If they know you will come to them to alert them of problems you have caused, then they don’t necessarily need to look over your shoulder all the time.

Don’t hide from your mistake

As soon as you find out that you have made a mistake, reach out to talk about it with your boss. 

If your boss requires an appointment, set one up right away—with some urgency. The less time you wait, the better. This will allow for a faster fix of any potential negative consequences.

Be clear about what went wrong

Start with a few simple declarative sentences. “I did X. As a result, Y happened.”

You can provide more context afterward, but it’s critical to lay out clearly what happened. Also, leave explanations for when the problem is fixed.

Suggest a fix

Taking responsibility means doing whatever you can to repair the problem. 

Tell your boss anything you have done already to try to fix the problem. If you have other suggestions, lay them out. Work closely with your supervisor to understand better how to solve the situation.

Plan for the future

You need to think through how you will handle situations like that in the future. 

Identify what went wrong. Did you act too quickly? Did you neglect to check your work? Did you listen to someone you shouldn’t have?

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Accept your emotions

Recognize what happened and how you feel. Suppressing your emotions will get you nowhere. It’s important to first focus on how you feel.

You can also journal your emotions or speak with a clo...

Focus on the facts

Take a step out of the emotions and stress to really look at the facts of the situation. Try to look at the situation objectively and seek ways to work productively toward solving it.

Get an outside perspective, if you struggle with getting the facts in an objective manner.

Don't let it consume you

Once we’ve made what we’d call a bad decision, we give it a lot of meaning it does not inherently have.

So try to mentally separate yourself from the decision. Doing so can help you strip it of its power.

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Personal responsibility

It means not seeking others to blame for what happens in your life and being able to respond to challenges personally.

Being aware that your decisions have a direct impact on your life’s ...

Strong communication skills

To take responsibility for yourself, you have to know the things you are responsible for.

It is critical to communicate so you won’t make a mistake due to assumptions. Ask questions and seek feedback. And if you do make mistakes, communicate with people about them.

Creating boundaries

Avoid over-committing and evaluate your workload before adding more to your plate.

Learning to say 'no' or 'not right now' will help you create the necessary boundaries so you'll be able to uphold your responsibilities and achieve all your goals.

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Mistakes at Work
  • Most people unconsciously overreact about their mistakes.
  • It is much better to accept mistakes, learn from them, and move on.
Admit and acknowledge your mistake
  • It’s critical to be transparent, and candid own up to the mistake, and not blame others.
  • Even if it was a group mistake, acknowledge your role instead of hiding.
  • In cases where someone was hurt, issue an apology, but don’t apologize too much, or be defensive.
  • The key is to be action-oriented and focus on the future. 
Make use of your support network

A healthy support network is beneficial if it has authentic trusting relationships, has a varied range of perspectives, and follows the 'give and take rule'.

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