The Most Embarrassing Mistakes At Work Revealed

Embarrassing Mistakes

Ever had that moment in work when you have been about to make a big mistake? Or are you one of the unlucky people who actually followed through and suffered the consequences? Making a mistake at work can be something incredibly simple yet embarrassing, or it could have much larger repercussions.

Something that is important to remember about mistakes is that they are exactly that, a mistake or an accident. Hopefully for most people a mistake will just be something to get embarrassed over and perhaps cause a few laughs in the future, but for others it could potentially be more damaging.

From the Mundane Mistakes to the Strange

After the recent mistake of the engineer who caused chaos for both British Airways and its customers, YouGov asked British workers what some of their most embarrassing mistakes are. The report found that the mistakes ranged from the mundane, such as forgetting someone’s name, to some rather odd mistakes that were too inappropriate to publish.

Apparently the most common mistake, and likely to be something we’ve all either done or nearly done more than once, is accidently sending an email to the wrong recipient. While this may be cause for a red face if the email is not related, at least it isn’t likely to cause as much damaged as pressing ‘send all’.

The NHS learnt this in 2016 when an IT contractor accidently sent an email to all 1.2 million NHS employees. This resulted in an unprecedented amount of reply all’s or simple replies that eventually cumulated into 186 million emails being sent and the NHS email system crashing.

Some of the other mistakes told to YouGov include the below:

  • “Accidentally being rude about a customer whilst I thought they were on hold. They were not.”
  • “Dropping a wardrobe off the top of a fire escape while moving it.”
  • “Forgetting to turn my microphone off before visiting the toilet.”
  • “Losing £2,000 cash by putting it in a waste paper bin by accident.”
  • “Mixed several old people’s dentures up as a student nurse when washing them.”

How Do You Cope With A Mistake?

Perhaps the most important advice here is to simply stay calm and don’t panic. Panicking will not help in situations where a mistake has been made as you will not be able to think clearly. If the mistake is small, such as emailing the wrong person or forgetting a name, politely apologise to the recipient.

Don’t ignore the situation, this will not be helpful and could potentially cause resentment as well. If your mistake is larger than this, then it would be advisable to contact your manager or boss as quickly as possible and explain the situation.

While this prospect may be terrifying, it would be much better for your manager to hear about it from you directly rather than finding out second hand. Your manager is likely to be able to help think up a solution, or if necessary and it was a genuine mistake will be able to help protect you from repercussions.

If a mistake is made and you don’t know it at first, make sure to admit to it once it is found out. You will not be doing yourself any favours by lying and if anything it is likely to increase your respect from colleagues and your manager by admitting to your mistake.

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Sarah Jubb
Sarah Jubb

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