Ever miss a deadline? Forget an important design element or list a key benefit? You’re not alone — everyone makes mistakes, and in most cases a mistake or two will not put you out of business (that’s why we use comps and drafts!). So, what’s the best way to handle your mistakes?
First, no excuses. Be honest. If you missed a deadline because something came up, you don’t need to spin an elaborate story; nor do you have to reveal what it was that came up. Just explain that you could not ignore whatever it was, and propose a new deadline that you can meet.
I accidentally hung up on a client once. It was an accident because a telemarketer repeatedly called me during my busiest time of the day, when I was engrossed in my work and needed to be able to concentrate. One day I had enough of it! I picked up the phone and said “Not available,” and immediately hung up.
When I received an e-mail about the incident from my client a few minutes later, I was simultaneously horrified and embarrassed. Why, despite my frustration, hadn’t I checked the caller ID before I so rudely hung up on a valued customer?
I explained to my client what I had done, how unprofessional it was of me to do it, and how sheepish I felt about the whole situation. No excuses — just an apology. We were working together again that same day.
Everybody makes mistakes, but those who choose to own up and rectify their mistakes stand a much better chance of staying out of the food line. Learning from your mistakes makes it easier for your employers to give you second chances.
What is your most embarrassing faux pas? How did you fix it and/or learn from it?