How to Effectively Recover From a Mistake

June 9, 2016Have you ever accidentally sent an internal email to a client? Bombed a presentation? Migrated 15,0000 data points incorrectly (yes, I did this)? We have all been there. The moment you realize it, your stomach drops, your heart rate quickens, your cheeks flush, your hands become clammy, and your eyes may even prick with oncoming tears. Mistakes, big or small, feel terrible. They are a blow to our confidence and can stick with us long after the actual mistake is made. 

However mistakes, when managed effectively, can be an opportunity to showcase your professional capabilities. The way in which you handle them can speak volumes about your character and abilities. 

Here are a few tips for bouncing back from a mistake:

  1. Discover it yourself: When you are the one to identify the mistake, you are in control of the situation. One way to uncover mistakes first is to double-check and review your own work. Ask yourself: would I feel 100% comfortable if my CEO saw this deliverable, email, or presentation? 

  2. Stay calm: At the moment of realization, the worst thing you can do is panic. Your best bet to resolve the error is to have a clear mind and try to manage your initial emotions. Take deep breaths, close your eyes for a minute, or take a lap around the office—anything to remain calm. 

  3. Determine how to fix it: Identify your key next steps. Understand details related to the timeframe, results of each action item, and whom you may need to enlist for help.

  4. Figure out how it won't happen again: Know the root cause of your mistake. Determine how you will avoid the same slipup in the future. 

  5. Admit it: When you make a mistake, it's appropriate to say "sorry.” Determine the appropriate person to apologize to and practice beforehand. In your apology, include what happened, agree upon next steps, and describe what you will do to ensure the same mistake doesn't occur in the future.

  6. And don't let it happen again: Making the same mistake twice is a red flag to employers. Stick to the plan you communicated, so you can avoid the potential of another "fool me twice" situation. 

Remember, mistakes happen. It is simply inevitable in your career. They are signs that you are challenging yourself. But handling these experiences swiftly and effectively and learning from them will set you apart from others, ensuring further professional growth and success. 

The views expressed herein are solely those of the guest blogger and do not necessarily reflect those of Catalyst. Catalyst does not endorse any political candidates. The post and the comments are presented only for the purpose of informing the public.