Making Mistakes at Work - How to Handle Them

Making mistakes at work is common. You're sure to make errors at work, regardless of your degree of expertise. It's only human to make mistakes, no matter how painful they are. It is possible to boost your overall image as a working professional if you know how to respond correctly.

making mistakes at work

Why it's important to avoid making a mistake

Appropriately reacting to a mistake is more successful and frequently results in more benefit than damage. Your reaction to blunders can even provide you with an opportunity to impress your boss. Despite this, you should try to prevent making errors at work. Making errors might lead to disciplinary action from your company in some situations. Here are some of the ramifications of errors in the workplace:

  • Embarrassment: Making a mistake can cause feelings of shame and humiliation. If your error is discovered by everyone at work, it can have a bad influence on your reputation.
  • Reduced credibility: When you make a mistake, it can cause your coworkers and employers to have doubts about your skills. It might indicate that you struggle to deal with difficult situations and employ your problem-solving abilities.
  • Verbal reprimand: If an employee's error has a significant impact on the company, some bosses will issue a verbal warning. It's preferable to avoid verbal reprimanding completely, even if it doesn't always result in dismissal.
  • Dismissal: If your error caused irreparable harm to the company and its reputation, you can lose your employment. This not only puts a strain on your money, but it also requires you to explain yourself to potential employers.

making mistakes at work

Ways to react when you make a mistake

The way you react to a mistake, no matter how big or little, affects how you overcome it and how you build your future at the company. Remember that, while words might assist to correct a problem, your actions can have just as much—if not more—of an influence. After you've made a mistake, show composure, confidence, and regret. When you make a mistake at work, here are some suitable responses:

Keep it all in perspective

Regardless matter how humiliated you can feel after making a mistake, keep your emotions under check before acting or saying. It's simpler to address problems in a professional manner when you have the appropriate mindset and headspace. Maintain your composure and avoid creating a scene.

making mistakes at work

Analyze the issue

Analyze the problem and alternative ways to repair the situation before making an apology or reacting at all. Take quick action if you can solve the situation on your own. Determine who you should contact if you require outside support. Then write a detailed account of what transpired and thank them for their assistance. You have a better chance of avoiding penalty and any ramifications if you come up with a solution quickly.

Have a private meeting with your manager

Consider meeting with your supervisor privately to discuss the situation in further detail if your error has serious implications. This allows you to sit down with them and accept responsibility for your conduct while also giving them a clear picture of what transpired. If you've already expressed regret, a private meeting permits you to do so again. Remember that your supervisor understands that mistakes are unavoidable.

Be open and honest

If you make a mistake, admit it right away. Give your boss a concise but accurate explanation of what transpired. Make sure you explain clearly and succinctly so they grasp your issue and the scenario as a whole. When you're open and honest with your boss or bosses, they're more likely to trust you with future tasks and initiatives.

Make a brief apology

When you make a mistake, admit it publicly and move on. Regardless of how embarrassed you are, your manager and coworkers are likely to forget about it after a few days.

Consider making a quick apology to your boss, such as, "I've made a blunder. I am, however, attempting to address the problem." This not only expresses your regret but also demonstrates that you're taking action and holding yourself accountable. Furthermore, it helps your boss to perceive you as a self-assured and capable employee who cares about the company.

Consider how to prevent future mistakes

Consider how you can avoid making the same mistakes in the future. While there's no way to avoid making errors permanently, you can take efforts to reduce your chances of making them in the future. Consider what went wrong in your last blunder and what you can do to avoid making the same error again.

Adjust your working style

As a working professional, it's critical to establish a routine that promotes overall productivity. It's more vital than ever to contemplate a change in your work approach once you've made a mistake. Set an earlier alarm if you frequently miss early morning meetings, for example, so you're ready to go when your workday begins. Improving your attention through other methods, such as adequate exercise, is also beneficial.

making mistakes at work

Reactions to avoid when you make a mistake

Understanding how not to react to a workplace error might help you avoid making the same mistake in the future. It also aids in the reduction of whatever harm you've caused. When you make a mistake at work, here are some examples of answers to avoid:

Covering up your mistake

While an apology is appreciated, the measures you take to correct the issue demonstrate that you're proactive and ready to go above and beyond to make things right. Avoid making a simple apology and entrusting them with the task of finding a solution for you.

While being silent about your error or delaying your reply can give a temporary solution, this is not always the case. If your boss or employer finds out, it can complicate the situation and demonstrate that you aren't as trustworthy as you lead them to believe. Instead of concentrating on your reputation, consider openness and how your error impacts the rest of the organization.


Making excuses for your errors gives the appearance that you don't want to be held accountable for your conduct. Brushing aside your blunder might indicate that you don't believe it's a big issue and aren't committed to your stance.

Diverting blame

Avoid blaming someone else for a blunder you made on your own. Acknowledging your error demonstrates to your boss that you are mature enough to take responsibility for your own conduct. It also helps you get along better with your coworkers.

Talking too much and reacting dramatically

In certain situations, reacting immediately leads to excessive speech in an effort to resolve the problem as soon as feasible. When you make a mistake, it's also wise to refrain from yelling and informing the rest of the office. Reiterating your apologies and being very emotional is not a good idea. While this reaction demonstrates your regret, it also demonstrates your lack of confidence in your job and your inability to operate under pressure. Furthermore, apologizing often reduces productivity for both you and the coworkers with whom you're conversing.

Reacting too calmly

While it's vital to stay cool after making a mistake, acting too calmly demonstrates that you don't care enough about your work to fix the problem. It also demonstrates a lack of self-confidence because you didn't feel compelled to come up with a suitable answer.

making mistakes at work

Common questions

Questions from employees and job seekers.

Are repeated mistakes bad?

Repeated mistakes, particularly the same one, can damage your professional image. Maintain an optimistic attitude. You will be dragged down if you have a bad attitude about the error, what others think of you, or having to rectify the mistake.

Is it okay to share a personal life issue that's causing work problems?

Yes. Though, it's not an excuse. Was there something going on in your personal life at the time of the error that was giving you stress or causing you to be distracted? What about in your place of employment? Take a deep breath and ask yourself these questions. Remember, it's impossible to prevent mistakes sometimes. What game plan you have when you make them is what sets your career up for success.

Is it normal to make mistakes at work?

It's impossible to avoid mistakes. Unless you completely forgot to do something extremely pivotal, your manager will understand. Making errors at work is common. At the end of the day, you're just human, and no matter how well-intentioned you are, mistakes happen. It becomes an issue, though, if you continue to make mistakes at work without analyzing why they are occurring or taking action to correct them.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo,, SparkHire,,, FairyGodBoss,, St. Edwards University, NC State University,, Thrive Global,, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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