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How to handle a mistake with grace

It happens to the best of us: we make a big mistake at work, or we’re in the middle of a huge argument with our partners and realize—right in the middle of screaming our heads off—that whoopsie, we are actually wrong. Here are some tips on how to accept the blame and take responsibility for our actions.

Get out of self-defense mode

Some of us are reluctant to admit our mistake (personally or publicly) because we want to protect our reputation and pride. But this is idea of self-protection is misguided. When we avoid taking responsibility for our actions, we put all of our effort and energy into defending a bad position instead of solving it and moving forward. We focus on “I didn’t do it!’ instead of “What can I do to make it better?”

Resist apologizing for everything

While some refuse to take blame for anything, others will take blame for everything. This often happens to women who are raised to think it’s their job to take care of others. So we say, “I’m sorry” just to spare the other from the feeling of guilt, or because we actually think we fell short of some ridiculously high standard or expectation.
Again, this does not serve the relationship because it deprives the other person from growing and taking charge of his own life.(Read more tips on how to deal with this kind of situation.)

Shaking off the victim mentality

One of the first steps to accepting blame or rightfully calling out someone’s mistake is to realize that this is not about pointing fingers. Nobody is the victim or the tyrant. Check your thoughts. Are you saying, “I have to…” or “She can’t…” or “I don’t have a choice except to…”
Both imply that a person is a passive victim of the situation. Realize that everything is a choice and that it is a matter of realizing the consequences of each choice, accepting responsibility, and then making better choices in the future.

In most cases a conflict or blame situation can be turned into a positive discussion if we change the language. “What can we do together in the future? What is the best way to solve this problem? What ideas do you have so this doesn’t happen again?” So whether the mistake was yours or somebody else’s doesn’t actually matter anymore. It isn’t about what who did who, but what one can do next.

Photo from dailyoftheday.com

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  • chrisisfit

    This is great advice! I enjoy the life tips I get from reading o5, they’re very practical and doable.