5 Tips for Dealing With Your First Mistake at Work or School

By Nicole Hindberg on April 3, 2019

So, you messed up for the first time. If you’re like me, the first mistake you made felt like it was the end of the world. Whether it be in school, at work, or whatever else you’re involved with, this can be a hard time — so here are three tips for dealing with messing up for the first time.

via Pexels

  1. Don’t make excuses, own up to your mistake: Your whole life you made sure that everything was perfect and the first time you mess up, your head automatically goes to shifting blame to protect that reputation you built up for yourself. Trust me, it’s a lot better to own up to whatever mistake you made than deny what happened.
  2. Increase communication about how you will do better: Your managers and co-workers want to hear from you about the things you are doing to try to be better. This way they know that you really are trying to get better and make up for the mistake you made. The more you talk to them and show them how you’re trying to get better, the easier it will be for you to gain their trust back. Gaining trust back is the first step to gaining back your original reputation with them.
  3. Don’t dwell on it too long: I know you feel awful about whatever you did, but dwelling on it will affect your performance in the future. People respond to action more than words and once you clean up your actions, they will believe your words.
  4. Take some time for yourself: The reason the mistake occurred in the first place is probably because you were stressed out, tired or not paying attention to what you were doing. Taking some time for yourself to reflect and to do nothing will help your mental health. It’s okay to be sad about it at first but you need to move on and work past things.
  5. Don’t apologize a million times: The only thing more annoying to your employer than not owning up to your mistake is apologizing a bunch for it. This makes you seem not genuine and that’s something you never want your employer to think.

No matter the mistake, it’s not the end of the world. In most situations, if not all, the mistake is not going to be life or death. And if you end up getting fired, there is always another job out there for you.

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