We all make mistakes from time to time.
A number of the mistakes we make are minor and don’t cause much of a disturbance in the world, however, some mistakes do hurt others and have to be dealt with quickly and effectively.
Following is a seven-step process for dealing with any mistake, whether it’s something on a professional or on a personal level.
Here Are 7 Steps for Mending Mistakes:
Accept the Mistake Directly.
Don’t add to the mistake already done by ignoring it in the hopes that it will disappear. Whether you’ve messed up on a client request or forgotten your spouse’s birthday, ignoring the failure won’t make it seem less important; it will just make you seem like more of a jerk. Be upfront. Directly and briefly, but honestly, acknowledge that you messed up. Say specifically what you did and how sorry you are.
The tendency of our human nature is to jump into self-defense mode; at no time is this response stronger than when we are forced to acknowledge our own flaws. Resist the urge to find somewhere (or someone) to put the blame, even if it’s justified. There are always explanatory circumstances, and most of us don’t mean to mess up. But all the good intentions don’t change the fact that you’ve made a mistake. Don’t point the finger or use circumstances to make an excuse; doing so only makes you sound like you care more about getting out of trouble than really resolving the situation or issue you’ve caused, however unintentionally.
Those two little words, I’m sorry, need to be heard by the person who’s affected by the brunt of your mistake. “Please forgive me” is nice, too. It shows that you understand this person has a choice of whether or not to forgive the mistake. It acknowledges that you need forgiveness. And it puts the onus on the offended person, forcing them to either accept the apology, and thus, start moving on, or choose to ignore or refuse your apology and leave you with nothing else to do.
Nobody wants to be the bad guy and refuse to accept an apology. If you don’t verbally, directly apologize, however, the person who has been hurt doesn’t have to make that choice to forgive and move on.
Offer an Authentic Way to Make Up for the Mistake.
Occasionally, in a few, rare cases, there’s really nothing you can do to make up for what’s been done. Perhaps you accidentally hit a neighbor’s beloved family dog with your car and killed it; offering to run out and buy a new puppy isn’t going to fix things, so don’t offer. However, in most cases, you can think of a way to make amends. If you have broken, lost, or otherwise damaged property, you should offer to pay for it. If you have hurt someone you are close to on a deep level, you might offer to go to counseling together. If you are at a loss for what to offer, ask: “What can I do to make this up to you?”
Give the Other Person Space and Time to Think and Respond.
The deeper the hurt, the more difficult it is for a person to let go of it. Don’t insist on an immediate response. People need time to think, to process, and to let go of hurt feelings and offense. Make your direct acknowledgment, take responsibility, apologize, and offer a way to make amends; then step back and say something like, “I’ll give you space and time to think this over.” Offer another, specific time to talk so you don’t forget to follow through with what you have proposed.
Listen and Reply.
During both the initial conversation and when you follow up, take the time to let the other person talk. Sometimes what people need most is just to share the depth of their hurt or the repercussions of the mistake that has been made. Venting isn’t fun to listen to, but it helps people process through the feelings and gets to the bottom line, which is where you need to both get in order to fix the mistake and move on.
Do What You Have Proposed You Will Do.
The last point is most important: if you have offered a way to make up for the mistake, and it’s been accepted, follow through right away. Failing to do what you have said you would do will only bring the mistake back, in an even more unpleasant way. And it makes it almost impossible for you to be taken seriously when you try to apologize again.
Following these 7 steps will allow you to mend mistakes with grace and ease. These steps will also help you feel responsible. I like to think of this as being “response-able” by exercising my capacity to respond in the best way.
Do you have any tips for mending mistakes that were not mentioned above? Please share them with us in the comments section below!
Are you ready to make personal and spiritual changes in your life? Consider a one on one private session with Moira or a reading to free yourself from limitations and open yourself up to greater possibilities? I invite you to open the door.