In a similar way as it can be said that there is a thin line between love and hate, is similarly the comparable line that can be drawn between owning up to mistakes, playing them down, or outright defending or disowning them.
Working within teams I support owning up to mistakes, with one caveat, trying to not make so many ‘obvious’ mistakes. No one is perfect, is true, but having a deep understanding and knowledge of our specialty lends a long ways to becoming flawless. In other words, know your stuff.
Now, I’m not going to get all preachy in this post, given how un-fond I am of shelling out advice that doesn’t have that cozy-compact one size fits all uniformity, but will tackle this subject in humorous stride.
One day an unnamed person was blamed for making a mistake. And by the way, this wasn’t one of those being locked out of the house, so you take your shoe off and bust out a window to let yourself in and then tell your parent, or honey, “oops, I made a mistake.” This was one of them inconsequential, ‘accidental’ micro-typo like mistakes.
At any rate, an unnamed “B” person… and no pun intended, walked up and said to the mistake-maker, “You made a mistake.”
Mistake-maker replied back, “No I didn’t. You made the mistake.”
“How is that,” said the “B” person. “You were the one who gave the directions. Everyone, and I mean all 370 of your guests got lost... for hours!”
And let me insert here. This really did happen. Well, most of it. We were lost for hours. I can write roughly 10 DIFFERENT mysteries on what happened to pools of us who were lost for quite a while. Each of our experiences differed albeit. Some of us were lost for hours; and a few others made it to their destinations--I'm guessing by the sound of things-- the next day.
Back to the conversation.
“Well, if you had told me you were special, I would’ve given you special directions,” said the mistake-maker.
Thankfully everyone made it out of the mountains okay, although to the mistake-maker’s credibility, there was an explanation for what really happened. Roadblocks! Something that wouldn’t have been known in advance. Of course too, there was no such thing as GPS back then.
But I loved the humor, and the subtly loud message behind assumptions on finding blame. On a personal note, one great way to retain credibility is by complimenting others, and pointing out what I enjoy…such as books, movies, music, and articles like these three: Of Skin and Kin at Christmas, Cheryl Conner's Mentally Strong People, and 10 Leadership Rules to Make it a Very Good Year.
PSS Note: On an extra serious note one obvious thread runs through the books Too Big to Fail, The Panic of 1907, War at the Wall Street Journal, The Smartest Guys in the Room, and Healing After Dark that demonstrates how credibility can be gained, lost, restored, and retained as well.