Cliff Notes for those of you who just want the high level, here you go . . . for those who want to grow . . . keep reading!
Handling a Mistake or a Miss:
1. Suspend | Listen | Clarify
2. Own & Apologize
3. Forgive & Release
4. Plan for Change
How many times [countless] have we all blown it, made mistakes, or missed deadlines and our knee jerk reaction has been to point to something other than ourselves as the reason. Essentially saying I’m not responsible for owning my actions, responsibilities, and commitments.
When you have a miss and you don’t communicate, adjust, and own you leave the person depending on you (the Depender-on-er) with a few choices. One of which might be to say nothing, enabling you not to be the owner of your actions, allowing you to remain stuck in the proverbial “not my fault mode.” Or, they may escalate out of frustration and move the situation into an emotional level that is not needed while clouding and creating other issues. Another option might be for the Depender-on-er to calmly walk you through the situation and identify your misses for you and establish a plan to work better in the future. Either way, when you are not taking responsibility for your actions you are asking someone else to decide how to handle them for you. If you are doing this, you will likely stay in your sucky state of living in “not my fault, not my problem land” which translates to lost friendships, frustration, frequent job changes, and the worst . . . Jr. High finger-pointing, backroom talking [a personal abhorrence of this writer].
SUSPEND | LISTEN | CLARIFY:
As a business owner and a woman in leadership, here’s what I’ve learned about handling mistakes . . . OWN them and STOP repeating them . . . the sincerest apology I know. Ok, now that I got that out, how does that look exactly? I’m taking a leadership course through Aileron, and something I’m learning is to “suspend judgement” or to not make snap assumptions so I can gather more data. When someone feels you’ve not followed through on your commitments stop talking and let them speak [visualize your hand chatting and the other hand clamping down on it . . . Stop talking].
The next step is crucial . . . seek to understand, before being understood. In other words, put an ancient technique into place called active listening (be present). Gather your data. Be curious. Ask questions (clarifying questions) non-judging questions. Using a neutral tone will be paramount to successfully navigating this phase. This will be a powerful place to start because right away your Depender-on-er will feel you’ve heard them and are sincerely taking the situation seriously. It is also a perfect place to come to a mutual (non-confrontational) understanding of what really happened.
OWN & APOLOGIZE:
Ok, so you’ve listened and asked clarifying questions and you have data . . . If you are a person who needs time to process, then ask the Depender-on-er if you could have some time to think through what’s happened and how to approach your next steps (offer a short, apologetic sentence to help them know you are hearing them). If you are not a processor, choose your next words very carefully. Whatever they are, they need to include the words “I’m sorry” and provide clarity on what you are owning . . . that you are owning your miss with specifics. And again, it’s possible in the clarifying questions phase above, it will become obvious who is responsible for what decisions were made or actions taken and the responsible “sorry” can come out naturally, diffusing the situation and providing assurance of how to communicate and work better together in the future.
FORGIVE & RELEASE:
Lastly, forgive and release the person(s) who need it (especially yourself). On a good day, you can only control you! Master these areas and you’ll become not only a great communicator, great employee, great manager, great leader, but you’ll also become a person others respect, just as you yourself do.
PLAN FOR CHANGE:
At the end of the day, you need to develop character exemplified as a “High Say, High Do” ratio . . . meaning it is more likely what you say, you will also do. If you keep repeating the same mistakes, you may want to seriously consider getting some training, counseling, or even make a career change. Just remember, wherever you go, there you are . . . you are responsible for your actions and behavior . . . you get to choose.
SO, I made a mistake . . . What do I do . . . Be Brave and Own
Suggestion: Copy this list on several 3x5 cards and put in strategic areas . . . to remember!
Suspend | Listen | Clarify
Own & Apologize
Forgive & Release
Plan for Change
Barbara E Hogan is the Founder, CEO, and President of Timbelo, Inc., a woman-owned, WBENC / SBA 8(m) certified company specializing in strategic advisory services and culture. Barbara is also a co-Owner of Afidence, a local, award-winning IT company launched in 2010.
Considered a thought leader in strategic thinking, Barbara serves and leads in various Boards and Councils in the Cincinnati-Dayton region. Active in the community, Barbara is sought out as an inspirational speaker, a panelist for women's leadership, and as a facilitator/moderator for local business events. Barbara and husband, Bryan Hogan of twenty-five years celebrate their three amazing children and four even more amazing grandchildren. Barbara is also an Ordained, Sr. Chaplain with the IFOC.
Barbara has a compelling passion for impacting others and improving lives. Whether in the realm of her personal or professional life there is no distinction—people are important. She has a strong sense of integrity, bold thought leadership, and deep respect for others.
Recipient of the MADE Esprit de Corps Award in 2016 and recognized as a Cincinnati Women of Influence in 2015 by LEAD Tribune Media Group. Afidence was recognized as the Best IT Services Company in Dayton, named among the Top 25 Consulting Firms in Cincinnati, Ohio, was an honored recipient of the Goering Center Family & Private Business Award, and named as an Inc. 5000 Company in 2016 and 2017.