If we are supposed to learn from our mistakes, why are we so afraid to make them?
Has anyone ever misinterpreted or misunderstood what you said or intended? Have you ever misunderstood what someone meant and then reacted to? We make mistakes every day, large and small, from epic fails to minor faux pas: deadlines will be missed, a tone of voice will hurt, you will deliver something and your boss will not be pleased, your kids will think you’re a bad parent.
We’re cheap. We don’t want to pay the emotional and performance costs of how mistakes are handled.
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Reactions to mistakes whittle away at your relationships, energy, trust, and confidence and can leave bad feelings all around.
If you have ever said, “I made a mistake, now what do I do?” you are ready to do mistakes differently!
The goal is to learn from mistakes, right? Learning doesn’t happen when mistakes cause frustration, disappointment, shame, blame and guilt to cloud the mind. There’s a healthier way to communicate when mistakes happen.
How do you get over mistakes?
Here are 3 steps we help our clients master to get over their mistakes:
- Recognize your reaction so you can understand yourself better (self-awareness)
- Increase your awareness of the impact of your reactions (empathy)
- Deal with your own stuff (internal conflict), before you go into a conversation with the other person/people involved (self-empathy and empathy for others)
You see, by reacting to the stimuli around you (traffic, missed deadlines, sub-par quality, another request of you, etc), you are coming from an energy that will:
- Create more of what you don’t want from your relationships (disengagement)
- Negatively impact your mental health and the mental health of others (stress, guilt, shame)
- Keep you in a constant reactive pattern (lack of: focus and results, and diminished mental health)
Reactions to Mistakes, Misinterpretations, Misunderstandings
As leaders (a.k.a. humans) we react to what is going on and we say things like: “he didn’t get it done on time”, “she did it wrong”). We react, not because of what happened, but because what we expected is not what happened. (Expectations - Reality = Stress)
So what does that employee, colleague or child experience from our reactions?
You got it: Shame, blame and guilt - the evil threesome!
What does that create between you?
- More stress
- More distance
- Less engagement
- Less trust
- Lower performance
Exactly the opposite of what you were hoping to achieve, right?
Turn mistakes into a Learning Lab
A mistake, misunderstanding or misinterpretation has set off alarms in your body. That familiar fight, flight or freeze response hits you. When a mistake happens, clear your mind and get back into a healthy, productive place quicker. Try this:
What did I see or hear that caused me to react? (Express the facts only by using language that does not blame, shame, guilt, judgement, criticism or labeling of people)
- Why ?
How am I feeling about the facts? Ask yourself, "what feelings are coming up for me?" (for example, anger, frustration, hurt, disappointment, exhaustion, etc)
- Impact ?
What impact is my reaction (trigger by my feelings) having on: 1) me, 2) others involved 3) getting the task accomplished/fixed?
How can I start feeling better NOW, before I deal with the situation. What actions will I take to feel best and to achieve our goals?
So why do we fear mistakes when we know they WILL happen?
Because we are afraid of the shame, blame and guilt that often comes when mistakes are made.
We have shared with you how to turn mistakes, misunderstandings and misinterpretations into a positive, learning lab.
If you would like to know how our most successful clients now manage conflict through communication, use this conscious communication tool to help you recover, repair, feel confident and have the best learning conversations when mistakes happen.
- Create trust and understanding
- Keep people motivated to learn when mistakes happen
- Remove uneasy feelings of blame, shame and guilt
- Allow people to feel empowered to act
Join other leaders in The Ultimate Leadership Training: a conscious leadership skills course in Ottawa/Gatineau, Canada, that will positively change how you lead, set and achieve goals and resolve conflicts, forever. We guarantee it.