Admitting to a mistake in the workplace can be one of the more incredibly challenging aspects of work. It’s tough to say you’re wrong and some offices or workplaces are so competitive and cutthroat that admitting to an error or mistake can open you up for further scrutiny. It is possible, however, to make an apology at work that is sincere and purposeful–without losing face. Here are some suggestions for how to deliver authentic apologies at work:
We all make mistakes. It’s just a simple fact of living this human life. But in a job where you are expected to be efficient and productive, errors and mistakes can be costly. Not to mention your judgment or commitment to a project, team, or employer can be called into question. Handled correctly, an apology can actually reinforce your commitment to the team and show colleagues and supervisors you are trustworthy and a person with integrity.
Timing is an important part of an apology. It is far better to come forth with an admittance of error and make an apology as soon as possible. Identifying your own mistake comes across stronger than waiting for someone else to point you out. By coming forth, you can be on the offensive. If someone else identifies your error or mistake, you are likely to be on the defensive and that is a much tougher spot to be in. If your mistake is brought to your attention, apologize right away and make a full and complete apology–don’t try to defend your error before or during your apology. Accepting responsibility and issuing a clean, complete apology is preferable to a murky one where you don’t really admit you were wrong.
Remember learning as a kid that sometimes being sorry isn’t enough? Well, in the work place, it is important to offer to fix your error or mistake or somehow make amends. Your genuine apology should include an offer to make thing right and correct your error or mistake. This is where the true strength and integrity come in. You are showing your colleagues and supervisors that you are not only willing to take responsibility, but you are willing to do whatever it may require to undo any damage that may have been caused by your error.
By stepping forward and admitting to your mistake to everyone involved and affected, and doing what you can to fix whatever problems were corrected, you should be able to turn a workplace error into another demonstration of your commitment to the team and the company. If you have let someone down or made someone else’s job more difficult, be sure to make it up to them and do what you can to repair the damages.