Part of your job involves doing it, well, correctly. So what happens when you make an enormous mistake, one that makes you simultaneously want to scream in frustration and hide so nobody will ever find you? Rest assured that you will likely make a big mistake at least once in your work career. Now that you know that, accept it, do what you can to minimize the damage, and figure out how to deal with the consequences in the best way possible.

  1. Apologize without delay.

As said, you may want to do anything but that, but after having a small, private meltdown, gather yourself together and, like we teach any kid, say you’re sorry…and mean it. Attempting to wait it out or dodge the person you need to talk to only makes the situation worse for you. So you have to get ready to eat your well-earned portion of crow. Keep it to the point (save the dramatics for when you’re relating the story to a friend): Acknowledge what you did, show true repentance for it, and, if needed, tell the person the plan you have so it will never be repeated. It can help restore some sort of professional balance.

  1. Accept the Consequences.

Actions have consequences. We all know that. Accepting them doesn’t usually feel great, but doing so helps everyone move on and start repairing damage done. And eating your fair share of crow rather than making excuses or trying to spread blame to others says a great deal about your character and professionalism. If you make a mistake, deal with a possible note in your H.R. file and a possible dressing-down from your superior, as well as having to do something extra to make up for it (working overtime to fix the error, apologizing directly to a client, etc.). Know as well that you’ll receive extra scrutiny, so hunker down and do your best work, showing that it was a one-time mistake rather than a pattern. Do it all with a positive attitude.

  1. Get proactive.

Part of avoiding a pattern of mistakes involves taking steps so the error doesn’t happen again. So make a checklist you go through every time before passing a project along detailing all steps you need to take, double-check email addresses before you click “Send” so they go to the right people, and plain old ask for help from those who have been there before you. Remember, others have made big mistakes, too. You’re not alone. Ask for a few stories, and you’ll get them. And if you’ve done something significant enough that you lose your job, stick to the old adage: Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.

When you make a big mistake at work, it feels like the end of the world, but everything will keep going, and so can you. For advice on either how to do well at your current job or finding your next one, visit PrideStaff.

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