To err is human. Everybody makes mistakes, though each individual deals with them in different ways. Mistakes can embarrass you or get you fired at the workplace, but you can also learn from them. A lot of people believe that you should admit your mistakes to your boss because keeping them hidden could exacerbate the problem, magnify an awkward situation, and it is unlikely you are going to be able to fool anyone and will therefore come off as insincere if you try to hide a blunder. Many people also feel very guilty after making blunders and seek freedom and hopefully forgiveness by confessing.
But sometimes going straight to the boss and confessing your mistakes might not be the best idea. If your boss is judgmental or easily upset, if your co-workers are more experienced and rarely make mistakes, or if you know your boss is looking for a reason to cut a number of employees, than your honesty, though commendable, could have you packing up your stuff and leaving the building for good. And some employers won’t take your honestly as a sign of responsibility and integrity but will see you as unprofessional because of a mistake, thus lowering your credibility and respect in the workplace.
So the best advice: when you make a mistake at work, as long as it’s minor and doesn’t hugely impact the workplace, learn from it and keep it under wraps, being sure not to let the same mistake happen again. You can also actually celebrate mistakes, because they help you learn and grow. Mistakes are what make learning, improvement, and growth possible.
So what are a few ways you can cover up mistakes at work?
- If you make a mistake on a project and someone asks why you are redoing it, say that you thought of a way to do it better. It’s honest and covers up your fault.
- Don’t lose eye contact. When your boss or co-worker is talking to you about a project or assignment that you know you’d made a mistake on, keep eye contact with the person and speak in a clear, casual voice. If your gaze constantly flickers around the room and especially to the floor, or if your voice trembles slightly, the other person will instantly pick up on it and wonder what is wrong. Being confident assures them that everything is all right even if it isn’t. Speak and act naturally. Guilty people speak in trembling or unusually slow voices. If you fidget or bite your lip, it signals guilt. Pretend that nothing happened or research body language to make sure you don’t send those “guilty signals.”
- If the boss or a co-worker says a mistake was made on a project that you and several other people worked on, don’t accuse anyone, because, instead of eyes going to that person, that swivel onto you. It is a well-known fact that culprits blame others. Instead, stay quiet and talk about how the mistake could be rectified.
- If you know you’ve made a mistake on an assignment or project, ask everyone if they’d like to go over it again, just to double-check for errors. This doesn’t make you seem guilty but a responsible person.
Now that you have some ideas about how to cover up your mistakes, how can you learn from them? All mistakes have a lesson in them, and it is up to you to learn it and apply it.
- First, for you to learn from a mistake, you have to accept that you made one. Secretly blaming someone else will keep you stuck in the present frame of mind, not letting you advance.
- Take time to study the mistake you made. If there are points that need to be improved, take the time to work on them. You might have to make necessary changes in order to see helpful results. For example, if you were supposed to write an email to someone by a specific deadline and called the person by the wrong name, you can stop and ask yourself why you did that. Were you rushed? Were you acting lazy? Do you see a pattern? If you have trouble meeting deadlines sometimes, perhaps you could get someone else to proofread the email for you before you send it out. Try not to make the same mistake twice, because it can affect your self-esteem and reflect poorly on you.
- Don’t beat yourself up. You cannot change the mistake that was made, only learn from it and apply what you learned to other areas of your life. Continuous blame ruins your self-esteem and can actually cause you to make even more mistakes.
- Recognize that it is normal to make mistakes. If you did not, you would not be able to learn from a bad experience. For instance, if parents constantly tell their kids not to run through the library, without explaining the consequences, the kids will get curious and run through the building. When the librarians yell at them, the children will see the consequences and not want to do it again.
- Making mistakes and learning from them is vital to self-improvement and learning important lessons. You can take mistakes and turn them into positive reinforcements.
- Ask for help if you don’t understand a part of the job. You might have thought you understood but realize you don’t. Try not to let pride get in the way of finding answers.
Making errors time and again can decrease your confidence and lower your work quality. In order to effectively cover up your slip-ups at work, you must learn from your errors as quickly as possible, because if you don’t, you will eventually be caught, probably sooner than later. Getting past your mistakes means coping with self-criticism and also investigating the reasons. When you determine how and why you make certain mistakes at your job, you can take the necessary steps to fix the problem once and for all.