10 ways to Avoid Making Mistakes So You Can Be Happy at Work
No one likes to make a mistake. Making one is unpleasant and certainly not a way to be happy at work. If you want to do meaningful and fulfilling work you have every reason to avoid mistakes. Here are 10 ways to avoid making a mistake.
- Listen carefully. Listening seems like an easy activity but it is more complex than it seems. How many times do you hear only part of what the other person is saying because you are thinking of your response? Does your internal critic keep telling you something negative about your ability to do what is required? Try repeating back to the person in your own words what you hear so that you are very clear on what is being said.
- Don’t make assumptions .This is something I am very aware of when I coach. Lots of times I think I understand what the client means by a word or phrase but it turns out to be very different from what I thought. I try to remind myself to ask questions so I am very clear on what the client means.
- Don’t talk openly on your cell phone or with colleagues or friends about confidential matters. You never know who is listening! I’ve been on the listening end of many conversations that people on cell phones are having. Sometimes they name people and occasionally I have actually known the person being talked about. I feel like I am eaves dropping but there is no escape. As a sales professional for AT&T I picked up some interesting competitive information once just by sitting next to two people talking on the subway. Be careful!!
- Don’t let emotions or fear get the best of you and then compound the mistake by getting defensive. If you get caught up with fear or anger you are likely to do something that you will regret later. Take deep breaths and count to ten before responding to criticism.
- Get help when you have a difficult problem. Have you ever had a problem and then just hoped it would go away and no one would notice? The most important person however has already noticed. YOU. Talk about it with someone – a coach perhaps. Make a plan of what you are going to do and then act upon that plan.
- Don’t agree to a rush deadline. Instead plan ahead or negotiating the deadline. Sometimes we take on work with an impossible deadline. When you are rushing to get the work done, mistakes are inevitable. Always negotiate a work deadline while looking at your calendar so you know you can get the job done easily and accurately. There are times when I make the rush deadline because I forgot something was due. If you have a forgiving boss or client, you can get away with it. Best to plan ahead and review your calendar and deadlines frequently!
- Get enough sleep. When I am tired I am useless! I’ve learned over the years that I must get 7 hours of sleep a night. What about you? Do you know the number of hours of sleep you require to work at your peak? Are you able to get this nightly? Mistakes happen because you are tired and not as present as you would be if you had rested.
- Take breaks and vacations. If you are doing meaningful work that makes you happy, it is often hard to take time off. You enjoy the work you are doing. Others are overworked and believe breaks will put them even more behind. By taking a break and/or a vacation you will see new possibilities in your work. Vacations and breaks refresh you so you are less likely to make a mistake.
- In new situations check your work carefully. When you are unfamiliar with the procedures or the work, ask for help. In new situations the work always feels strange. I for one hate being a newbie. It takes me way out of my comfort zone. I feel really vulnerable. I want to do a good job but there are alligators all around. If this is true for you too then look for or ask for a resource to help you.
- Believing that asking for help shows weakness. Most of us feel like it is a form of weakness to ask for help. If your work views questions in this way then look outside your work for a consultant or coach who can help you. Get the help you need before it is too late.
What do you do if you do make a mistake? After all everyone makes a mistake at some time. That is how we learn and grow.
- Take some time to think things through. Make a plan to recover. What are the priorities here?
- If an apology is warranted, do it once clearly and then move on. Find an agreeable solution.
- If you are a supervisor of someone who made a mistake, be supportive. Don’t belabor a mistake of a direct report. Allow a person to move past it.
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