How you react after making a mistake can establish you as an accountable stand-up employee—or a shirker who dodges responsibility. Tips to gain others’ respect after you mess up:
• Don’t use passive language. Avoid phrases like “Mistakes were made” or “Problems occurred when …” which imply that the mistake just happened without your involvement. Instead, own your mistake by saying, “I made a mistake” or “I caused this problem when I …”
• Don’t place blame. To save your own hide, you may search for someone, something or some circumstance to blame. Don’t. You’ll simply alienate co-workers and prove to others that you aren’t accountable. Instead, apologize.
• Share solutions. Show initiative by coming prepared to explain how you are going to clean up your mess. If you aren’t sure what to do, have some ideas in mind to talk over with your supervisor.
• Accept the consequences. Your co-workers might be furious, your boss may reprimand you or you may face other consequences. Understand where other people are coming from, and take your lumps with grace and humility.
— Adapted from “How to Admit Your Mistakes,” Dustin Wax, Lifehack, www.lifehack.org.