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What to Do When You Make a Mistake at Work

by South University, Online Programs
March 25, 2014

No one is perfect. Despite our best efforts, we all make mistakes in both our personal lives and our careers. Even a small mistake can become a huge issue if it is not dealt with properly. The following professional advice will help you not only to accept your mistake and forgive yourself, but to learn and grow as well.

Making MistakesOwn up to It

Our first instinct after making a mistake is to try to hide it before anyone notices. Don’t do that! Lying, hiding, or trying to cover up your mistake will only make matters worse. Furthermore, hiding your mistake will damage your reputation and perceived character once the error is brought to light.

We are all human, and are usually forgiving in the case of mistakes, but when lying is involved, trust and forgiveness are diminished. So do the right thing – when you make a mistake, immediately bring it to the attention of your boss or supervisor.

Don’t Blame Others

Trying to place the blame on someone else when you make a mistake shows a lack of accountability on your part – and that is not a great quality to possess. By accepting the full responsibility of your actions, you will show that you are mature and accountable for your mistakes. Attempting to blame others could also damage your reputation with your boss and coworkers, and even cause others to see you as sneaky or untrustworthy.

Correct Your Mistake

The easiest way to get past a mistake once you’ve taken responsibility for your actions is to fix the mistake. Even if it means working later, going out of your way, or enlisting the help of others, correcting your error will show that you truly care about getting the job done right and are committed to delivering results.


Mistakes are usually avoidable and happen due to careless oversights. Once you have taken responsibility for your mistake and corrected the error, take time to think about why you make the mistake. Were you rushing? Trying to cut corners? Not paying attention? Not asking for the necessary help? Make note of the cause of your mistake to avoid letting it cause more mistakes in the future.

Learning and Committing

There’s something to be said for the old adage “a mistake is only a mistake if you don’t learn from it.” Instead of seeing your mistake as a failure, try to frame it in a positive light and look at it as a learning opportunity. If we take the time to learn from our mistakes we are less likely to make that same mistake again.

Tags: careers communication

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