Blame? Own Your Mistake
OK, who are you most likely to believe.
The person who is arguing a fact and yet you know they were wrong two weeks ago, but would not admit it.
The person who is arguing a fact and in the last year, that person has admitted twice, they were wrong.
I’m thinking, you’re going with the second choice. Integrity and trust are based on knowing the person you are dealing with can admit a wrong. Which leads me to ask, why won’t more people do it? You know, why won’t more people admit their mistakes? Can people admit they were wrong? Can it be done without blame? Have you seen this scenario?
Employee: I would have submitted my expense report on time, but I was assigned other things with higher priorities.
Finance: Yes, well, 4,000 other people managed to do submissions this month, I’m sure some of them were assigned higher priority things as well.
Finance, your manager, your team, whoever, don’t really want an excuse or a reason. They want a plan of action that you will put in place to prevent what ever caused the missed deadline, bad data or wrong facts. We are mired in a cult of perfection where is seems bad to admit a wrong. One of my college buddies would quote:
Excuses are tools of the incompetent which create monuments of nothingness. Those who specialize in them are seldom good in anything…. –
I often catch myself about to give an excuse, a reason to lay blame. I remember the quote. I take a moment and then admit I was wrong. There is that strong urge to tell the reason or give an excuse. You know what? If someone is that curious, about your reason or excuse, he or she will ask you.
Unlike sports, where there is a referee to call you out on your error, the work place has to be self monitored. It’s much better if you own your mistake rather than have others discuss you behind your back. Yes, the admission this is not easy. People ask me, how do I admit I was wrong. See that shows people don’t do it. They don’t even have the tools or an inkling of what to do.You just say:
About <matter x>, I was wrong, and here are the actions I will take to <prevent and /or make up> for my mistake.
The whole admission thing is situation specific. The real tip I can give is to do the admission with sincerity AND as mentioned earlier, don’t give me an excuse or a reason, but tell how you will avoid such a thing in the future. Be humble. A suggestion for the guy getting a ticket for being one person in the carpool lane arguing with highway patrol. Stop arguing, take a moment and say to law enforcement:
“You are right, I am one person in the car pool lane and I apologize for trying to excuse my behavior by claiming my dog Harley counts as a person.”