12 Examples of Mistakes You Can Learn From

Examples of Mistakes at Work

Mistakes happen in the workplace. There are lots of demands and pressure. But what you do after the actual mistake is just as important. Perhaps the attention should focus on how you respond to the mistake rather than the mistake itself because that is what determines their fate at work.

Why learning from your mistakes is important?

It’s simple, really. We learn from our mistakes to avoid making them again and become better individuals overall. If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we will keep repeating them or making new ones.

Making mistakes is inevitable, but how you choose to deal with them is what counts the most. If you learn from your mistakes, then you are well on your way to becoming a better person.

How can you learn from your mistakes?

One way to learn from your mistakes is to reflect on them. What went wrong? Why did it go wrong? How could you have prevented it from happening? What are the consequences of the mistake? These are some questions you should ask yourself when reflecting on a mistake.

You also need to take action and implement the changes that you have identified. Lastly, be patient with yourself — mistakes happen, but that doesn’t mean you’re a failure.

Some people tend to be too critical of themselves when they make mistakes, and nothing wrong with that. But there’s a difference between being selfless and being too hard on yourself.

When you come hard on yourself, your mistakes quickly become your identity. Even though you are human and make mistakes, they do not define who you are as a person. All you have to do now is learn from your mistakes.

Here are 12 examples of mistakes you can learn from at work:

1. Not saying “sorry” when you’re wrong

When you’re in the wrong, it’s critical to apologize. Saying sorry opens the door for forgiveness, which is both necessary at work and in life.

People often don’t hold grudges with someone who apologizes when they’re wrong because it means that you are trustworthy. It also shows you care.

Many of the ways we interact with others depend on verbosity. We try to help or be polite. But many people do not like to admit they are wrong. If you can’t even apologize for your mistake, then how will you learn from it?

For some reason, most people think that not saying sorry will make them look strong and better. But it hurts the other person and makes you look like a jerk. And the truth is, no one likes a person who cannot admit they’re wrong.

2. Failing to keep your temper in check

If you have been in a heated argument with your boss and other people, don’t just storm out because you will only make it worse.

The best way to resolve a dispute is to talk about it calmly. If the conversations become contentious again, step away from the office until you calm down.

When tempers flare, always try to focus on solutions rather than problems. This could mean solving the problem of finding ways to compromise or resolving the issue together.

In any case, handle yourself with dignity and respect. Otherwise, tempers may continue to fly, and you will not get what you want.

It is helpful to take a step back and think about what you are angry about relative to the bigger picture. When you keep your temper under control, everything will work out.

You will listen more carefully, make better decisions and interact in a way that helps others around you. Anger often makes people make decisions that they regret later on.

Read also: 33 Good Examples of Leadership Skills

3. Being afraid of asking questions

Some people might not ask questions because they don’t want to seem ignorant. But if you are unsure about something, ask for more information. More information helps avoid confusion and costly mistakes.

Also, it gives you time to evaluate the situation and make the best decision. It is better to ask questions because it can lead to new insights, save time and avoid mistakes.

The consequences of not asking questions are that people don’t know what is happening around them, waste hours trying to figure it out on their own (and possibly worse), problems that continue but never get resolved because no one sees them or takes care of them.

4. Sending emails to the wrong people

Good examples of making mistakes you can learn from include sending emails to wrong people.  This is something that happens all the time. 

Many people can be easily distracted at work. They can’t concentrate on what they are doing. It’s hard to know how much such mistakes affect the business. But sending an email to the wrong person can cause problems.

If you are making this mistake, try to find out why you are doing it. Be careful when copying and pasting email addresses. It can save you a lot of embarrassment.

5. Ignoring signs of bad behavior

Red flags are signs that warn you that something that might not be right that you should deal with, whether that means fixing or avoiding.

They include your inclination to be late, a teasing coworker, gossip about work colleagues and management, or taking credit for another people’s work.

However, some recognize these red flags but continue with that behavior anyway. If your boss is yelling at you in public, bullying, or lying to you, these are also red flags you need to deal with as soon as possible.

But many people don’t do anything because they feel afraid of the reaction from their boss or colleagues. Also, some people are so used to being yelled at or badly treated that they have become desensitized to it.

You don’t have to work in an abusive environment. You can learn to become assertive and speak up against inappropriate behaviors.

Don’t accept to work in such situations, because everyone deserves to work in an environment where they feel respected.

6. Ignoring problems

Many people talk about success but do not know how to achieve it. Talking about excellence without figuring out how to achieve it lacks integrity.

When something doesn’t work one way, they blame themselves and never think or search for other solutions. They just write off the problem as “impossible” and give up without looking for a solution.

But to give up without trying is a mistake you should never make because every problem brings with it an opportunity to learn something new.

You don’t want to avoid learning. Don’t let fear of failure suppress you from trying out new things. Giving up without even trying is one of the biggest mistakes you can ever make.

Also read:12 Examples of Resilience at Work

7. Not taking accountability

The workplace can be complicated with many people involved in a project or decision-making process. When something goes wrong, it’s easy to blame someone else instead of yourself. It makes you feel better and protects your ego from getting hurt.

It can hurt your career in the long run because you’re not taking accountability for your mistakes or decisions. We all have a self-interest that makes it difficult to see things objectively.

But refusing to take responsibility for our actions does not do us any good. If we fail to take accountability at work, we undermine the value of what we do.

Being accountable for something does not mean you are to blame if it goes wrong. Accountability is not a blame trail where individuals are quick to point fingers. People who take accountability at work view mistakes as opportunities to learn. 

8. Surrounding yourself with people who don’t challenge you

We always protect ourselves against criticism or novelty because we don’t want to be challenged, embarrassed, or judged. Our egos and insecurities sometimes push us on the wrong path because we are afraid to be convinced otherwise.

That is why most of us want to work with those who agree with our thoughts and opinions. It is an emotionally safe environment to work in, but ironically when we surround ourselves only with those with the same thinking, it holds us back from growing professionally.

It is hard for someone who agrees with all your ideas to challenge you. If everyone around you does the same thing, there isn’t any room to grow or improve. We need people who challenge us. It’s hard to grow when we have only yes-men and women around us.

You need some conflict to learn new things about yourself. Otherwise, you will never know what makes up your weaknesses. You are unable to explore beyond your boundaries. You can only see what your mind dictates.

If you want to learn new things, you must surround yourself with people who don’t necessarily agree with everything you say or do.

9. Assuming you know what your boss needs

Many people are hard-working and dependable employees. They take pride in our work and always take the initiative to do the best job possible.

But what happens when you assume that you know what your boss needs? How much better would it be if, instead of guessing, you asked them?

There is nothing worse than not knowing what your boss needs. However, to assume that you know what they need without asking them can be catastrophic. The last thing you want is to make the wrong assumptions and end up with something completely different from what your boss needs.

If necessary, ask your boss questions. Don’t be afraid of being seen as incompetent or inconsequential. It is okay to ask when you don’t understand something instead of making assumptions. It might even demonstrate that you are intelligent and want to do a good job.

Read: 12 Examples of What to Tell Your Manager to Improve On

10. Holding grudges

The workplace is a social environment where many interactions take place, where you find different people and personalities daily. There is nothing more frustrating at work than employees who hold grudges.

To hold grudges means that you are holding onto anger and resentment towards another person. People hold grudges for all sorts of reasons, but often it is petty and has no real purpose. Sometimes they do it because the other person has refused to apologize or do them a favor.

Holding a grudge for such a thing is not going to help anyone. It is far better to work out the issues with people and move on because not doing so can be detrimental for you as an individual.

If someone has wronged you, speak to them about it. If they are willing to apologize or not, move on with your life.

Holding a grudge in the workplace can cloud your work and make you seem like a difficult coworker. It can even hinder your career growth and create tension between you and others in the team.

11. Thinking you are irreplaceable

Some people think that their knowledge on the job or the amount of experience in a specific field makes them feel as if no one else could do their job, but this is not always true.

Your employer will always find someone else to fill your role even if you leave unexpectedly. No one in the workplace is irreplaceable, not even the CEO. This is a classic issue common in the workplace where some individuals want special treatment like sacred cows.

Employees who think they are irreplaceable can even hold incompetent managers hostage. But letting someone does whatever they want just because they are talented is like abdicating responsibility as a manager.

Everyone is replaceable. Someone out there can do your job, maybe not at the same level you are right now, but in time. It’s a big mistake to think that you are irreplaceable or that your colleagues are incapable of doing the job.

12. Spreading rumors and gossips

Most of us have been guilty of gossip at some point in our lives. It’s an impulse that is difficult to avoid mostly but not exclusively when surrounded by people who share personal information.

If you let gossiping become a chronic habit, it can have a poisonous effect on you and others. Even if you have good intentions, gossiping can be a big challenge because it is so pervasive. It is easier for someone to spread lies than the truth.

Trying to stop it can often lead to more gossip. But you can do something about gossiping. Because it is incredibly destructive if left unchecked and can destroy your personal life and professional network.


Mistakes can happen at work. But it is how you react to those mistakes that matter. Everyone must accept responsibility for their mistakes. This way, you will learn from them and be better at what you do. If people learn from their mistakes, they can become more successful in what they do.

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