THE OFFICE BOUNCE-BACK: WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU SCREW UP AT WORK

For tons of twentysomethings, the stakes are higher than ever in their offices. Deadlines are tighter, tensions are soaring and sometimes, well, sh*t happens. But it’s not the actual mistake that’s fatal to your quest for professional success, it’s not learning from it. So we’ve identified five dreadful slip-ups–from posting too much of your business on the Interwebs to losing your cool during a meeting–and offered savvy guidance on how to bounce back and prevent them from happening again.

THE SCREW-UP You missed a super-important deadline
THE BOUNCE-BACK
You don’t need us to tell you the importance of adhering to deadlines. And performance is often linked to time management, which is often linked to getting things done when they’re due. But let’s say, you screwed up and failed to submit your monthly report to your boss. The first thing you should do is “take ownership and accept responsibility,” Gabby, a manager who’s risen through the ranks at a small-sized financial services company in Dallas, advises. Instead of making excuses, come up with a plan of action–with a reasonable projected completion date–to show that it won’t happen again.

Keep in mind: The sooner you alert the higher-ups that the looming deadline may be missed, the better. Gabby suggests you “provide as much notice as possible for the best outcome.”

THE SCREW-UP You were caught gossiping about internal rumors around the watercooler with one of your teammates
THE BOUNCE-BACK
“Most people don’t realize the impact gossip has on the morale of a team,” Gabby explains. So next time rise above the fray by simply staying out of it. Above all else, don’t speculate. If you have questions about something or are unhappy with how things are being done, follow Gabby’s succinct advice: “Go to the source. Talk to someone who can do something about it.” Corporate America rewards integrity so don’t compromise yours for a fleeting spell of salacious chitchat.

THE SCREW-UP A dreadful case of TMI on social media
THE BOUNCE-BACK Online platforms are a tremendous way to stay connected and quickly consume information. But like all good things, they come with a risk. “I use social media to discuss stuff with my friends and keep in touch with my family, but I don’t put anything work-related online–point-blank, period,” Gabby says. If you can’t resist the too-much-information temptation, be prepared to protect your reputation if anything from your digital footprint is ever called into question.

A more savvy alternative may be to find a mentor (“preferably not attached to your job”) to vent to about work-related matters. Or go the old-school route and write about it in a journal.

THE SCREW-UP You hit reply-all to voice your objections to a manager’s decision
THE BOUNCE-BACK
As a best practice, “Don’t reply-all to matters that pertain only to you,” Gabby recommends. “And you shouldn’t include any personal opinions on mass emails either.” Besides, you never know how a peer could use the email against you in the future.

But if the reply-all lapse was done in error, try this tip: Before beginning to respond to an email, remove all recipients from the recipient field of the message. Once you’ve finished your response, then you can type the names of the addresses. Email services won’t allow you to send a message without a recipient so this hack will keep you from inadvertently “reply-alling” in the future.

THE SCREW-UP You lost your cool during a team meeting
THE BOUNCE-BACK The office is a professional environment, so the rules of engagement are different when you’re on the clock. “Make it a priority to never let your peers know when you’re upset,” Gabby says. Once people can tug on your emotions, that’s the card they’ll play until you prove them otherwise. Next time you’re ready to detonate, employ a “five-second rule” to compose your thoughts and body language to ensure you send the right message. “Keep your mouth shut until you can communicate professionally and without a condescending or unpleasant tone.” Check out this article for more tips on meeting etiquette.


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