DEAR HARRIETTE: I got into a somewhat heated debate with a client the other day because she made a big mistake that was embarrassing for my company. Later, I realized that while she definitely made a mistake, so did I. In the moment, I cut her down, really admonishing her for the mistake she made. When I realized that I was wrong, too, I said nothing. Should I go back and have a debrief and point out what went wrong on both sides? -- Post Mortem
DEAR POST MORTEM: Stepping back after a project ends to discuss what worked and what didn’t can be very helpful. In a situation like this where both sides made mistakes, it can be enlightening and healing for everything to be on the table. This helps to stop the finger-pointing and support learnings for the future.
I highly recommend including an apology there, too. If you were intense in the moment when you noticed the mistake -- one that may have been more inflamed than the moment called for -- say you are sorry for the way you reacted to the mistake. Also, very clearly admit what you did wrong as well so that you do not appear to be diminishing your role in the problem. Being honest and direct about the good and bad of a situation helps frame you as a trustworthy ally and leader. Owning your mistakes is a sign of strength and integrity.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)