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Overcoming sticky situations

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in Workplace Communication

Everyone makes mistakes. However, it’s what we do once we’re culpable that shows our character.

Have you ever worked with someone who made a mistake and denied it? You’re sitting there fuming while he points the finger at someone else. Not really the way to earn Brownie points from your fellow co-workers, is it? How should you act? Here are five steps to follow:

Step 1: Immediately speak your truth and own up to it. Admit responsibility. What was your role in the fluff? What happened and why? Stick to the facts. Don’t wander down roads, embellishing here and there. No one needs to know that. They need to know what and how bad. For instance, you forgot to put in the lunch order for the group meeting in the conference room and now there’ll be a delay.

Step 2: Who. Identify if others were involved. Just identify—don’t blame.

Step 3: Who really needs to know all this information? Is it just your immediate bosses or is there a whole list of people you need to apologize to?  Do they need to know what steps you’re taking to remedy the problem? Do you need to make an appearance at the conference table and explain that the tray of sandwiches will be late?

Step 4: State how you fixed (or will fix) the problem. Be proactive. Report the details of your blunder. If unsure, make an estimate. Chin up here. This is when you admit that yes, the sandwiches will be delayed by an additional hour but you’ve put in a rush and may get them sooner.

Step 5: Preparation! We don’t want this happening again. Find out when the next meeting is and place the menu for the deli in your tickler file. You may even want to preorder.

These steps apply no matter the situation. Remember, everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone has the decency and character to admit them. It’s what separates a responsible co-worker from a finger-pointer.

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