By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Media Services
Q. I have a job where the same thing never happens twice. I end up making a lot of mistakes. My boss says mistakes are just part of the learning curve, but I get so upset I shake when I realize I messed up. How can I develop more self-confidence?
A. You will develop more self-confidence by learning how to make mistakes with enthusiasm and grace. Your boss has been trying to tell you that, in any industry, you have to make mistakes to know anything worth paying you for.
The difference between people who get promoted and people that stay at the bottom of the workplace food chain is that the people who get promoted take risks, make mistakes gracefully, and get really good at their jobs. People who don't get promoted make mistakes, freak out, and can't think clearly enough to find solutions.
The people who are most likely to be thrown off the horse by mistakes are bright, competent workers who are perfectionists. Ironically, employees who don't care as much also don't get as upset - and tend to be able to think about how to fix a problem.
Notice what you tell yourself the next time you make a mistake. You may find you talk more critically and rudely to yourself than you would talk to anyone else. We often don't notice these silent dialogues going on inside our head, but they do make us feel awful.
If you find you're ranting internally about what an idiot you are, no wonder you lose the ability to solve problems. Notice that the real problem isn't that you made a mistake. It's that you treat yourself so badly that you've lost your ability to fix anything.
Consider how you'd talk to friends you love dearly when they make a mistake. Now next time you screw up, attempt to take a deep breath, and then give yourself the same pep talk.
Give yourself the room to know that it's normal to be embarrassed when you make a mistake. If you are a perfectionist, be comforted in knowing that no one in the room is being as hard on you as you are being right now on yourself. People who end up with brilliant careers make as many mistakes as anyone else.
One of the favorite themes in movies and books is the underdog who goes on to succeed. When you make a mistake at work, you are the underdog. If you keep your wits about you, what you do next may just make you the top dog at work.
The last word(s)
Q. There is a group of people at work who enjoy sitting around snickering and making judgmental comments about everybody else. Are people still this petty after high school?
A. Yes, petty gossip is the tranquilizer of an immature soul.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). Contact her at www.interpersonaledge.com
or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027.