Being human = will screw up from time to time!
The level at which we blunder can range from mild to epic. As I've gotten older and wiser, what I have learned from my mistakes is not always in the mistake itself, but in what you do after you FUBAR.
One of the biggest mistakes I made in my corporate days was publicly berating a co-worker in front of others. I did a pull-rank kind of thing but in a mean-spirited way. I felt justified in my behaviour since she did something I felt equally mean-spirited. Turns out, the public humiliation debilitated her so much, she ended up going to therapy over it, and tried getting me fired for creating a hostile work environment. It was tense in our group for awhile.
I didn't get fired, and only found out about her therapy sessions months later. Hearing that news made me feel really awful, and being mean-spirited was not a leadership characteristic I wanted. So, one day, I called her into a conference room, and I apologized for yelling at her in public.
I acknowledged that what I should have done is spoken to her privately and in a more calm state, and not in front of her co-workers. I offered to help her in anything she wanted. She accepted my apology and six months after she even requested to come work in my group with me as her boss.
What one does in the aftermath is a good test in character and integrity. I believe that people are more forgiving and patient with you, if you handle yourself in an upstanding manner. Here's 5 things I've personally learned in redeeming yourself when you have effed up:
- Take accountability: The sooner you take accountability for your actions the better. Sometimes your ego is convinced that you've done nothing wrong or that bad, or the other person will get over it on their own, but uh-no. You are the creator of your life, no one else. Taking accountability demonstrates maturity.
- Acknowledge that you have hurt another: If just showing up is 90% of life like Woody Allen said, I'd say simply acknowledging what you have done and that you realize it has hurt someone else is 90% in redeeming yourself. Acknowledging the hurt you caused demonstrates empathy.
- Apologize from your heart: People know right away if you are sincere in your apology or not. How? Genuine remorse comes from your heart not your head. It's in your eyes, your body movements and in the energy you put out. Apologizing from the heart demonstrates sincerity.
- Make things right: Apologizing is a great start but it's not enough. You have to also demonstrate in actions that you mean what you say. Actions speak louder than words after all. Making things right demonstrates that you understand there were consequences to your actions and that you are willing to do the work to make things better.
- Forgive yourself: This pointer is more for those of you like me who tend to be perfectionists and will beat ourselves up over and over again for things most people can let go of sooner. When I was younger, I would hold onto guilt and shame for things I did years ago. Making mistakes is not about perpetual punishment it's about growth and learning. Forgiving yourself demonstrates evolution.
Those are just a few things that have worked for me. What is a tip that has worked for you in redeeming yourself after a mess up?