What to Say When You Make a Mistake at Work

By August 11, 2017For Talent

Uh oh! There is simply nothing worse than the feeling you get when you make a mistake at work. And no, we’re not talking about the accidental typo you put in your presentation or the time you awkwardly called your manager mum.

We’re talking about the heart-stopping, sweat-inducing mistakes that could potentially get you into a lot of trouble.

If it’s happened to you recently don’t worry. Here’s exactly what you need to do and say to recover.

Step 1: First things first, breathe.

Mistakes happen to everyone at one stage or another. Of course, you will feel terrible for a moment or two but after that, the feelings or panic should subside into a dull sense of negativity. Accept that and roll with it.

Step 2: Face up to it

Take a moment to put what’s happened in context. Who will this effect? Will this lead to other errors? Decide who the best person to talk to about the situation is and ask them for a chat. Do not bury your head in the sand and hope that the problem simply goes away, it very rarely does.

Step 3: Say sorry

But don’t overdo it. Apologise sincerely and offer to help fix the problem in any way that you can. Show genuine remorse and then get on with it. Do not keep bringing the topic up or start begging for forgiveness. You will only make the situation worse.

Step 3: Look at the bigger picture

Mistakes happen every single day and unless you’re a doctor or firefighter no one is going to die if you screw up at your job.

Of course, we should always be our best professional selfs at work and consistently bring our A game but we’re also just humans and humans mess up all the time. Just ask your coworkers, they will likely have a mortifying office war story of their own. At the end of the day, you’ve still got a job and you’ve learned a valuable lesson.

Step 5: Grin and bear it

If you make a reasonably large mistake then there will be consequences. Whether that’s working overtime to fix the filing system that you accidentally ruined or taking your annoying colleague out to lunch to apologise for the snappy email. Whatever you have to do to make things right just do it. And no complaining.

Step 4: Win back their trust

Talk is cheap. You will have to win back your co-workers trust through your actions. Assess why you made the error. Was it tiredness or inexperience? Do what you can to make sure that the situation doesn’t happen again and work your ass off to show them just how dedicated you really are. In a few months, no one will even remember.


Enjoyed this article? Subscribe to our blog.

Author Alice Murray

Alice Murray is a Content Creator at Jobbio with a passion for Employer Branding and Graduate Culture. She's a keen traveller and a self-proclaimed lazy runner.

More posts by Alice Murray

Leave a Reply