You screwed up – now what?


Oh dear…it’s not been the best of days at work. Did that presentation you’d worked so hard on land …er…like a lead balloon? Or maybe that conversation with a colleague didn’t go at all well?  Did you make a major mistake? Was it one of those days? It happens.

We’ve all been there, done that. Here’s a few DOs and DON’Ts to help you get back on track.

DON’T self-destruct
Tempting as it may be to sink into despair, drown your sorrows (and generally make a bad day worse), don’t hit the self-destruct button and sulk. Life tends to serve up tough lessons when we most need to heed them.

DO make amends
Say you’re sorry – and mean it. The most trusted brands have protocols for ‘service recovery’ – because stuff happens. They apologise, handling screw-ups honestly and with humility, setting out the steps that will be taken to put things right.

DON’T go it alone
When things go wrong, some of us would rather hide, lick our wounds and ruminate over (and over) what happened. By all means take a moment to clear your head, but if you’re feeling really bad, being alone may not help you recover.

DO phone a friend
Make a call (that’s voice: not text/chat/email) and prime the friend that you simply want to talk to someone you trust. Ask if they can talk now or later. If they offer suggestions, accept them gracefully. Don’t rebut their help – listen and thank them.

DON’T bluff your way out
Potholes await the bluffer who tries to lay blame on other people / procedures / anything but themselves when things go wrong. Now is not the time to lose whatever respect others have for you.

DO reflect on what happened
Take three steps: reflect, rewind and replay. Reflect on what – if anything – went well? What – exactly, in forensic detail – didn’t work well? Tip: write this stuff down and get it out of your head. Next, rewind – going back to just before it all went wrong – how could that situation have unfolded more positively? What different steps before, during and immediately after the screw-up would ensure a better outcome? Again, this needs to be written in detail.  Finally, replay – close your eyes (if it’s safe to do so – not at the wheel please) and envisage the same situation, but in your mind’s eye watch how it now unfolds very differently.

‘To err is human’ applies to us all and it’s bound to happen at some point. Recovering from screw-ups requires us to be humble, earn others’ forgiveness and demonstrate we’ve learned the lessons.


You may find these posts useful: ‘7 tips for receiving feedback’ and ‘Ask a coach: help! I’ve been told to raise my profile’


Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’ and ‘How to be Zoomly at work’ 


Copyright Zoomly
Just so you know…if you share this post in its entirety, it’s very much appreciated.
Please don’t copy it and pass it off as your own.

Image credits: Depositphotos



Comments are closed.