Oops, My Bad

We all make mistakes—some of us more than others. How you handle those mistakes, though, can make or break your business.

One of the worst things anyone can do is blame their own mistakes on others. I’ve heard of consultants who, forgetting to place an order or arrange an exchange, blame the home office. Somehow, someday, that will come back to bite them.

When you make a mistake admit it and do all you can to right the error. People will appreciate your honesty. Through the years I’ve made lots of mistakes. Just recently I realized that I’d neglected to arrange an exchange for a customer a week after they’d contacted me. I immediately contacted our home office to arrange the exchange. My next move was to text my customer (the best way to reach that particular person, otherwise I would have called). I apologized. I assured her that I’d taken care of the matter and would keep her informed as we went through the process. She wasn’t upset. These days most people understand a memory slip.

Was I happy with myself? No. I felt bad that I’d let my customer down. Would my customer have known that I’d forgotten if I hadn’t told her? Probably not. I would have known, though. By being open, honest, and authentic with this customer I’ve strengthened our bond. I’ve also make it more likely that she’ll believe me if there is a glitch with the home office sometime in the future.

That brings me to another point. How do you handle others’ mistakes? Do you immediately point the finger of blame, or do you handle things as discretely as possible? The discrete approach is usually best. Don’t fudge if you’re asked further questions, but don’t be quick to throw someone else under the bus. It’s just not good policy to make someone else look bad.

If you’re making lots of mistakes, you’ll want to slow down and take at look at the way you’re doing things. However, when the law of averages catches up with you, just realize that you’re human. Forgive yourself and ask for forgiveness from others. Honesty is always the best policy.

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