How to Handle a Mistake

How do you react when a family member, friend, or co-worker makes a mistake? Some of us yell, lecture, punish, threaten, and humiliate. Unfortunately, these reactions to mistakes are sometimes deliberate and intentional, and greatly harm both the provider and recipient of these reactions. Is there a better way? The popular mantra "To err is human; to forgive Divine" suggests that there is a better way...


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    Reframe "Mistake": Hyphenate "MISTAKE" into "MIS-TAKE." Doesn't that have a different feeling? Motion picture filming consists of hundreds of "takes" to get a final print. Therefore, a "MIS-TAKE" is not bad or a failure, but rather just one thing that didn't work out of a nearly infinite set of possible events.
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    Use mistakes as an opportunity for learning. Most of us want to hide our mistakes; but we may be more willing to share our "MIS-TAKES" and let others learn from them. An individual, a family, a business: each can benefit by openly recognizing, identifying, and fixing MIS-TAKES, rather than pretending they didn't happen. In fact, a "MIS-TAKE," if fixed quickly and in a creative way, can become a wonderful opportunity to turn a dubious "victim" into a delighted partner!
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    Think of mistakes as opportunities to prove yourself. A "MIS-TAKE" becomes an opportunity to create a loyal partner, friend, or customer. For example, in business, studies show that one of the things all customers want is recovery when the organization has made a "MIS-TAKE." They want us to apologize sincerely, fix it, and do something extra. With creative thinking, we can dazzle our "customers" (including family members, and even ourselves) by surprising and delighting them with the way we handle a "MIS-TAKE." We build loyalty and provide our "customers" with a wonderful story to tell and retell their friends!


  • We live in the "Age of Empowerment" and have learned to give ourselves, our family members, and our co-workers freedom and "permission" to make mistakes. Now give them "protection" when they make a "MIS-TAKE." If you give your life partners both permission and protection, you will surround yourself with people who feel respected and valued, and they will enrich your life.

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Categories: Goal Realization & Problem Solving