Oops...three simple ways to handle workplace mistakes | City Bible Forum

Oops...three simple ways to handle workplace mistakes

Made a mistake in your daily work? That's not so uncommon. But what might be is how you respond. Here are three suggestions.
Tue 30 Mar 2021



You know the feeling – making a mistake at work and feeling awful about it. You spend your evening feeling discouraged by what you did (or should have done). How should we handle it when we make mistakes in the workplace? Here are three simple things we can do next time it happens:

1) Admit it to yourself. Whenever we make a mistake our first reaction usually is to try and shift the blame. Its been humanity’s default position right from the beginning (Genesis 3:12). “If he hadn’t put me in this situation I might not have made that mistake”. “If she had given me more assistance I wouldn’t have done that”. Or maybe even “it’s not my fault”. But we need to acknowledge to ourselves that we’re responsible. We made the mistake. We’re responsible. Don’t try and find a way of shifting the blame.

2) Admit it to God. The second thing we should do is admit it to God. Apologise to Him for our carelessness or our forgetfulness or our laziness or our selfishness. Whatever it might be, confess it to Him, because ultimately all sin is against Him (Psalm 51:4). But confess it knowing that He is always quick to forgive (Psalm 51:17, 1 John 1:9). But as well as admitting it to God also ask Him to help you handle the difficult conversation you might now have to have with a colleague about your mistake. And ask Him to help your colleague to also be understanding and forgiving.

3) Admit it to those affected. The final thing to do is to admit your mistake to those affected by it. Admit that you’re responsible. Don’t try and shift the blame – cop it on the chin. Depending on the size of the mistake an email might be a sufficient apology. Or maybe you need to do it over the phone or in person. Don’t shy away from admitting your mistake and apologising. And offer to rectify the problem if you can. Seek to make amends for what you have done. Learn from the mistake so that you don’t do it again.

In my experience when we respond to our mistakes in this way colleagues are often very understanding…and often surprised. It’s unusual, distinctive behaviour to admit fault, but dare I say it, attractive also. It stands out to our colleagues. And so in responding to our mistakes in this way we demonstrate something of the way that we know we are broken, but also forgiven people. It's what I like to call the apologetic power of the apology.

Want more wisdom and support in your workplace?

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