How you talk about mistakes

Are you a spill-the-beans, fess up and face the music kind of person?

Or perhaps you’re more likely to cover-it-up-at-all-costs?

Most likely, it depends on the seriousness and the situation.

Am I doing it wrong?
I notice what other people do and challenge myself to be better. (You’re probably do the same or you wouldn’t be reading this email!)

I got to thinking about mistakes when I was working with a colleague made a few mistakes that resulted in an unhappy client.

He and I discussed what he should do differently. I felt confident that he’d fix it for the next time. It wasn’t catastrophic, but it was serious enough to warrant an internal huddle.

When we debriefed with the larger team, I let him take the lead in discussing what happened. He did not mention his mistakes.

He allowed the internal team to think this was just another high maintenance client. He didn’t say that directly, he just let them think it by omitting some information.

And it made me think about how I respond to mistakes.

Can you relate? 
Here’s what I do….I’m a verbal processor, so I like to talk things through. I would have talked about what I noticed, my guesses about what went wrong and how exactly I planned to address it next time.

It made me think about whether this is the right or wrong approach.

If I followed his example and didn’t tell the team, I would have been worrying that the client would talk to my boss and tell them that I made mistakes. My boss would be surprised and unhappy that I had not shared all the information.

But what if that didn’t happen?

What if I followed my colleague’s example and didn’t mention my mistakes?

Is that lying?

Then I wondered if this desire to be too honest was one of the things that holds women back. If women were to stop admitting to more than we absolutely have to, would we get ahead more quickly?

Is it dishonest to not mention it? Or is it smarter to protect myself and manage information to my advantage?

The bottom line 
In the end, I might come across as more competent when I don’t mention my mistakes. OR I might come across as caring and competent, willing to take risks yet smart enough to know what to do differently when the risk doesn’t work.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. What approach do you take?

Warmly,
Melissa

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