As someone with a new job this year, mistakes are really inevitable: at various points I’m going to screw up, say the wrong thing, hesitate when I shouldn’t, etc.
What’s next? What do you do after the mistake? That’s what I’m working on getting better at.
First, say, “I’m sorry. How can I make this right?” That’s pretty easy. The next part is more complicated.
I’m a big believer in rational actions: people always act rationally. From the outside, it may not always seem like that is the case. However, with some empathy, I think we can get to a place where we may not agree with an action, but we can understand how it was a rational choice someone made in a moment.
When I make a mistake, it is the same thing: I made what I thought was a rational choice. However, when you let a teacher or student down, and you think you acted rationally, the impulse is to explain your decision. However, this explanation – “this is what I was thinking and why I did what I did” – isn’t needed in the moment. When you’ve got an upset party in front of you, they aren’t interested in your rationale. They are interested in solutions. And in attempting to explain why you made a certain choice, you can invalidate the feelings of the person you just wronged.
“If you just heard my side, you’d get it.”
That pushes back on the feelings they expressed. That isn’t a solution to the mistake you made. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reflect on what you did that left someone disappointed or upset. But the reflection doesn’t need to be public, in front of the aggrieved party. Figure out how to get it right the next time, and show that with your actions.
As with most thoughts on this blog, this opinion is a work in progress. Might my thinking change? Sure. It almost certainly will. It is, however, where I’m at right now.