Melissa ScottComment

Accepting Mistakes at Work

Melissa ScottComment
Accepting Mistakes at Work

We are all human, we all make mistakes. We receive and send many, many emails per day. Sometimes things get lost in the shuffle what do you do when you miss something?

I’ve just realized, recently, and really taking to heart, that when someone emails me, I don’t have to respond right away. I’ve been saying this to myself, quietly for YEARS but not really practicing it. I wanted to share some tips that have helped me lean into this feeling more and how to accept it when someone else feels personally offended because of lack of communication.

You own up to it

Scenario: You promised something and you didn’t deliver (for whatever reason).

Let the person know that you didn’t do what you said you were going to do. Let them know that you messed up what you said you’d do. Owning up to your mistakes is freeing because you’re not hiding the mistake and most of the time, when the person is in a good headspace, they’ll recognize that, forgive you and you both can move on.

This can be challenging for most of us, I know I’ve had trouble with this in the past because of some past trauma with teachers or parents getting really upset at me when I’ve told the truth. This for me, in the past has caused me to wonder how good it really is to tell the truth, when I’ve gotten in a lot of trouble for telling the truth before. Disclaimer - it’s ALWAYS better to tell the truth than to lie about a situation.

I know, from an unpleasant experience, that I want to quickly forgive people when they mess up. We’re all humans, we all make mistakes, things slip through the cracks. For most of us, our mess ups are not life or death. We apologize, learn something and hopefully are forgiven. I’m going to be more forgiving when this happens to me or when other people “drop the ball” or forget to email me back within a week’s time. Life happens and that’s totally okay.

You apologize

Since you’re owning up to it and taking responsibility, it is fitting to apologize. This part is where I always get a little tripped up and am still working on myself. I’m a recovering perfectionist (anyone else??) and really want my work to be done on time and to the best of my ability so when things slip through the cracks or decisions are made and not communicated clearly, I get frustrated at myself and upset that someone is calling me out, when I KNOW that I’m at fault. This might be a bit of embarrassment like, “I shoulda known better” kinda feeling.

I often have to take a deep breath, to really feel the “Sorry” before I say it because in the heat of the moment, I’m not sorry (or at least, that’s what my brain tells me). This is also really difficult when there’s someone really heated on the other end of the phone or email, when in your head you KNOW that they would never EVER speak to someone in this way if they were in person.

I’ve also been trying to cut cords with people. Have you heard of cutting cords? The basics (gonna get a little woo over here): We all have energy circulating through and around our bodies always. When we have a weird, tense or negative situation with someone else that effects us or shakes, we carry that negative energy with us. I like to imagine a cord coming out of my heart, going into their heart, then I take a pair of purple, sparkly 😍 scissors and cut that cord. While bright rose gold sparkly light flows over me cleansing my energy centers to no longer carry the tension that just happened.

Now, I can’t always cut cords in the heat of the moment or even an hour later. This is something that I do as part of my meditation practice either before bed or when I wake up in the morning. It really helps and I can often times feel my shoulders relaxing down my back in the wake of this practice.

Share the information with your boss

If you work for someone else, I think it is really important to share the situation with your boss. I always like to have my boss hear any weird, messy or negative situation because I would rather them hear it from me. How much worse might a situation be if the irate person went over your head to a VP when you’re a middle level manager. If this is the first time your boss, or boss’ boss hears about it, yeek! Might be really bad depending on the irate person and their influence on your organization.

Drum roll please…

my biggest email pet peeve

“I’m so sorry for the delay.”

UGHHHHHHHHH - nails on chalkboard scratching down very slowly…

Sometimes, I get emails from people who say this phrase and they've responded within a half hour of me sending the email!! Even taking 48 - 72 hours to reply, I think, is acceptable. There is no delay in this respect. If I have to ping you again, I’ll ping you again, then MAYBE apologize but still most of the time, unnecessary.

I’ve been putting into practice saying, “Thank you for your patience.” to acknowledge a delay in my reply without explicitly saying it. I’m full of gratitude that they didn’t keep following up during a busy time of year for me. I love this, just think it sounds very elegant and personable.

I had a boss tell me to “slow down” (huge theme in my life!) because I always thought that I had to respond to emails right away and she told me to slow my roll and that their emergency (the constituent reaching out) isn’t my emergency and I could take 24 - 48 hours to respond and that is totally acceptable. I’ve taken this to heart and don’t apologize for delays, I thank them for their patience and I’ll often give a reason for an extended wait period for my reply.

Quick Recap

Own up to your mistakes.

Apologize & cut energy cords.

Share the information with your boss or appropriate “higher-ups”

Thank them for their patience vs. apologizing for the delay in email.

I’d love to hear from you and see what are your email pet peeves? When have you made a mistake and what was the result? How did your supervisor react?