Mistakes are Opportunities

As people we are imperfect. Accept the fact – you will make mistakes that your clients and colleagues see. Each of your mistakes is an opportunity. If you’re willing to share your humanity, it can become an undeniable differentiator.

Here are a few tips that might help you turn that mistake you make today into an opportunity.

Be completely candid and transparent about the mistake. Too often, people try to hide their errors or blame them on situation or another person. This is childish. Differentiate yourself by pointing clearly at the mistake and discussing it openly.

Apologize. The simple words “I’m sorry” go a along way.

Ask for feedback. Ask your colleagues, peers and clients what you can do differently in the future that will improve the situation. You might be surprised by the positive responses you received when you’re openly trying to improve.

Listen. Often, I’ve learned about mistakes from clients and colleagues as they are “complaining”. It’s too easy to become defensive when someone is telling you how you screwed up. Stop, listen to what they have to tell you. Ask them questions. Truly understand how the mistake affected them. Discuss how it can be remedied.

Take action to make amends. “I’m sorry” is powerful but going above and beyond to correct your error is even more so. Take whatever actions possible to correct your mistake. Do not allow your error someone else’s misfortune. Do NOT be reasonable about this.

Take steps to avoid the mistake in the future. Personally, I’m not a very detail oriented person. Since many of my clients and colleagues are extraordinarily detail oriented, I’ve built systems and processes that help reduce my propensity for sloppy errors and meet their expectations for details.

I’d love to hear stories about your mistakes and how you created an opportunity by dealing with it well. Please share in the comments or shoot me an e-mail.