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Fess up to a mistake the right way

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in Workplace Communication

You’ve just had a brochure printed for your company and you notice a very big, embarrassing typo. A price that should be $265.00 has been incorrectly typed as $26.50. You didn’t notice it when you had the proofs last week, and now it’s too late to make a correction.

What should you do? Tell your boss about your role in the mistake? Blame the colleagues who checked the final proof?

It’s a real-life scenario that one copywriter faced. What did she do? She told her boss about the error, then proposed alternative solutions. She had an estimate for reprinting the brochure, as well as pricing for custom-printed stickers to place over the error.

Three things impressed her boss: 

  1. The copywriter immediately admitted the mistake.
  2. She didn’t just dump the problem on her boss; she had an action plan.
  3. She took responsibility, even though her boss knew that several other people had been involved in the proofing process.

Mistakes aren’t an opportunity to blame. They’re a chance to learn and improve.

— Adapted from “Should You Admit a Mistake?” Eve Tahmincioglu, MSNBC.com.

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