A really hard part about being human is that we will make mistakes. Making mistakes are unavoidable. When someone truly acknowledges that they have made a mistake, you should always immediately accept it and then forget it
As soon as you have made a mistake or you realize that you have done something that you shouldn’t have, come clean. Acknowledging your wrongdoing soon after it happens greatly reduces the impact of whatever you have done.
I have made so many mistakes and said so many things I wished I hadnt. Just recently I was invited to lunch with a vendor that I work with often. At the end of a meeting with this person, they invited one of my colleagues to join us the next day for lunch. My colleague didnt seem sure if they should accept the invitation, I said “Come on, join us. It’s a free lunch”. Almost immediately I recognized that it was wrong for me to say that. First of all, it simply was not my place to offer that the lunch would be free. Yes, lunch would be paid for but that should not have been the persuasive factor to join us for lunch. It also could have been interpreted by the person who invited me to lunch that my reason for accepting the invitation was a free lunch not the relationship building. I had trouble sleeping the next night just thinking about what I said earlier in the day.
So what do you do when you discover that you have made a mistake?
- Apologize as soon as possible. Do not wait. The longer you wait, the more impact the mistake will have on your life and the other person. Apologies are like putting out a fire. When the fire first starts, it is easy to extinguish, but the longer you wait the fire spreads and you will need more water.
- Let the person know that you made a mistake. Let them know what you did and let them know that you owe them an apology.
- Do not make any excuses. Any hint at an excuse will dilute the apology. Even if there is a good reason, just plainly stating the mistake puts full responsibly on you. If there is a good reason for your mistake, the other person will recognize it. Not you.
- Ask for their forgiveness. If this is a valuable relationship to you, your honesty will only make the relationship stronger. If somehow they don’t forgive you, then you know you have other issues with your relationship.
- Forget it. There is no need to continue to beat yourself up over your mistake. If you genuinely apologize and the apology is genuinely accepted, then there is no need to keep it alive.
My great grandfather was born in 1900. Throughout his life he would write quotes in his bible. One of my favorites is “When a feller makes a mistake and doesnt admit it, hes made two mistakes, and if he doesnt fix it up, his is three”.
What mistake have you made that you wish you could apologize for now? What have you apologized for and been forgiven for? Read comments here or leave your own comment.