Mistakes in business happen. Poor results and lapses in judgment are inevitable at some point. Time and again however we are told that in life and in business our blunders are opportunities to breed innovation and growth. This may be true but how do we survive the initial fall out?
In customer service facing your clients after a mistake has been made or your team when a project fails to take off can be a hard pill to swallow and an instinctive, human reaction is to lay the blame on somebody or something – anything – other than on our own heads. We can find ourselves justifying our actions, results or thought processes to the point where we have defensively backed ourselves into a corner.
In the short term this might seem preferable to admitting that we slipped up. Yet all the energy we expend in pointing fingers is insulating us from the opportunities in a given situation. How can we learn from our mistakes if we refuse to take responsibility for them?
Peter Bregman, a contributor to the Harvard Business Review, recommends that in such instances we take the blame for anything we are even remotely responsible for and fully apologise for any harm caused by our actions. Accepting blame in these instances can actually be seen as a “power move” as by owning a problem we authorise ourselves to do something about it.
The simple act of accepting blame can lend us more credibility, can improve the transparency of our interactions and can strengthen our relationships with clients and colleagues alike.
The crucial point in this is that when we make a mistake our focus should remain not on the problem or the blame itself but on how to resolve the issue and avoid any future similar problems. Accepting blame quickly and collectedly means the issue can be smoothly steered away from the negative “pass the buck” environment and toward solutions.
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