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10 Tips: How to Deal With Mistakes Correctly

Accepting mistakes is difficult. Who likes to admit failure? However, mishaps happen always and everywhere. Far too often, however, they are covered up and demonized. A positive error culture is essential for personal and business success. We give tips on how to deal cleverly with errors.

How to Deal With Mistakes Correctly

10 Tips: How to Deal With Mistakes Correctly

1. Accept that mistakes are part of human activity.

No one makes mistakes on purpose, they happen. It is therefore right to investigate the causes and not denounce the guilty. But exactly the opposite happens in reality. Studies show that most people cannot stand mistakes "because they mistakenly believe that mistakes are evidence of stupidity," writes Pulitzer Prize-winning author Joseph Hallinan in his book "Lechts or rinks: Why we make mistakes". As a result, people keep silent, cover up, and blame others. Time is lost in identifying the actual problems and preventing chains of errors from occurring in the first place.

2. Address mishaps early and consistently.

In this way you avoid the perpetrator struggling with self-reproach and the fear of exposure turning the working day into an ordeal. Uncovering the mishap, addressing the personal misstep, contrary to expectations, people cope well. Daniel Gilbert coined the metaphor "psychological immune system" for this characteristic. 
The Harvard psychologist and decision-maker was able to prove that our brain uses defense strategies during crises and that the level of happiness usually returns to the starting level after a certain period of time after defeat.

3. Be relaxed when you make mistakes and support instead of demonizing them.

It's easy to say when customers are upset, business is lost, the boss is raging. But the claim to act flawlessly is unrealistic anyway. According to experts, perfectionists, control fanatics or pathologically ambitious people do more wrong than those who tend to deal with weaknesses in a relaxed manner. Constant anger after a failure is also harmful. Studies by the University of Vienna in 2014 show that those who frequently have to accept negative error feedback are less likely to come up with new ideas.

4. Admit mistakes, but do not associate confidence with the stigma of "getting it right."

Those who admit they did something wrong are well on their way to learning. But self-tearing is just as wrong in this situation as self-protection solutions - such as blaming others or making circumstances liable. Anyone who makes a mistake has to be clear: "That wasn't so good, but you are not a failure." The fact is: Errors can empower, but also fuel deep self-doubt. And complexes encourage mistakes.

5. Treat mistakes rather mischievously.

Positive humor such as jokes, satire or irony make it easier to talk about mistakes. Of course, a fateful faux pas should not be laughed at heartily - that could be interpreted as malicious joy. But humor takes away employees' inhibitions about making mistakes - because the boss every now and then "shoots" and can smile about it. Used correctly, humor helps to reinterpret negative experiences and to reconcile with mistakes.

6. Avoid so-called hindsight errors.

Because it is precisely these who are responsible for the fact that we often commit a mistake several times. To explain: people have the habit of distorting their own errors and mistakes when looking back. So we conjure up a glossed over image in memory. And that makes mistakes repeat. Experts advise, for example, to keep minutes of important decisions and to write down the advantages and disadvantages. In retrospect, what happened can be assessed more realistically. 
The same goes for forecasting: predict something, overturn the judgment for a year, and see if the forecast is correct. You will see that most of the forecasts are wrong, although in retrospect we like to say the opposite.

7. Don't think long and hard about your own mistakes and those of others.

According to experts, constant brooding and questioning are of little help. Psychologist Andrea Abele-Brehm from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg explains that the secret of stand-up males is that they can turn off negative thoughts more quickly. According to Steve Ayan, constant self-awareness even promotes failure, fears, and restlessness. 
The science journalist describes in his book "Loosening" the findings of the American psychologist Barry Schwartz: He would differentiate people according to whether they want to get the best out of them or whether they are satisfied quickly. Some he calls Maximizer, others Satisficer. Like Schwartz's research show, Maximizers would be more likely to be depressed, so it seems healthier to come to terms with the acceptable - and that includes mistakes.

8. Look for errors and analyze what could have arisen.

This step goes further than the common behavior of wanting to learn from a lapse. Because the questions of what went wrong and what can we do better deny the actual potential for error. Errors, mistakes and mishaps reveal exciting options and lead to creative variants that cannot be planned. You can justify this procedure with ingenious inventions: the sexual enhancer Viagra, the microwave, the antibiotic penicillin, the plastic Teflon, the sticky notes Post-it, the popsicle or even the potato chips were discovered purely by chance.

9. Apologize correctly.

It is difficult for many to say "Sorry, that was my mistake". A Mea Culpa does not only have to evoke insult and shame. An apology can earn respect and strengthen one's own position. But an apology has to be learned Ohio State University in the USA have developed a 6-point plan for the "perfect" excuse based on studies. It consists of the elements regret, explain, admit, show responsible, offer reparation, ask for forgiveness. However, the components are not equivalent. According to the researchers, the most important element is admitting guilt.

10. After completing a project, make a list of the mistakes that have been made.

First of all, it is not about doing a methodical analysis, but rather dealing with errors in general and talking about them with others. Realizing that projects and processes consist of a multitude of errors, both major and minor, is an indispensable lesson. As a result, an organization can gradually establish a positive error culture that has a direct impact on quality standards, productivity, innovation potential and competitiveness.