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Make No Mistake

Mistakes do happen, right! But, there are ways to prevent them from occurring as well. Stick to a few simple rules to avoid getting caught on the wrong foot

MOST MODERN offices have air-conditioning. Even so, it does get hot under the collar every once in a while. Like when you walk into your office and realise that the presentation you had to submit is at that moment sitting cosily in the front seat of the bus you took to work. Or when you mix up on a phone call and tell a very important client that you want your pizza with extra cheese. Or when he recognises your voice and starts to offer you vital information regarding the same, you instruct him to go easy on the mushrooms.

In spite of what advertisers may claim, there are very few air-conditioners in the world that can stop you from sweating in such conditions.

Why does this happen? Partly due to the recurring human urge to make unbelievably atrocious blunders that complicate matters, which are otherwise quite simple. Actually, the whole thing would be quite incredible if it did not happen with such frightening regularity.

It may then seem that the average employee is an inveterate glutton for punishment, but again this is not entirely true. There is a lot more to it than a simple desire for messing things up in the most irreparable fashion. Research, if any, is carried out in the future, will probably point to some sort of genetic encryption, but until such findings are made public, we will have to content ourselves with the well-worded aphorism `bad things happen.' All we can do is throw a sheepish grin at irate bosses and colleagues, and go about our merry way. That is of course, if you are the one who has made a mistake. If it were your boss or colleague who has bungled, you would be quite justified to rave and rant about the idiocy of that particular member of the human race, and the unnecessary contingency of him being a part of it.

But, in hindsight, making mistakes is what makes us human. There are a whole lot of clichés to support this, but we will instead bathe you in the wisdom of an exceedingly witty quotation. This particular gem comes from the wizened hand of Oscar Wilde: `Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes'. It is a statement that is both true and appalling. Perhaps it is appalling because it is true. Whatever, be the case, it basically means that most of us, me included, despite our lack of years in our respective professions, already have loads of experience. In fact, by that yardstick, I have so much experience, that if I added it to my résumé I should be made President of the World Bank or CEO of Microsoft or something. Who knows? At any rate, I am probably entitled to a promotion or a raise.

In short, mistakes happen, they happen a lot, and just about everybody makes them. Not only are they inevitable, they are natural. The best strategy is to know how to deal with them.

a. Prevention is better than cure: The first rule is simple. Work out a way by which you can minimise chances for errors. For instance, if you are filling in a report or juggling figures on a balance sheet, do double check before you hand it in.

b. Make room for mistakes: They have a way of creeping in and spoiling the best laid plans. Despite your greatest efforts, things will sometimes go awry. Some foresight and contingency planning could do you a world of good. Always have a backup in case it doesn't work out the way you wanted it to.

c. Say you're sorry: If you slip-up, and you will, the right thing to do would be to apologise and fervently vow never to make that same mistake again. Not only is it a good balm for wounded feelings, it is the most well-known escape route known to man. If it seems hard at first, practice it till it is a reflexive instinct.

d. Learn from your mistakes: As painful as it sounds, not to mention clichéd, you do have that option. Although very few people exercise that option, you could walk the road less taken.

e. To err is human, to forgive, divine: This is going to be even harder to digest. There will be times when somebody else is wrong. As much as you would like to yell and scream when somebody else has goofed up somewhere, it does little good. So, when faced with an earnest apology and a fervent vow to never make the same mistake again, you could do the graceful thing and forgive him with open arms. Mind you, not too open, just wide enough to symbolise the extent of your magnanimity.

f. Twice bitten thrice shy: To err is human, and to forgive? Divine, true; but to forget is rather difficult. If a colleague has let you down at some point of time, do give him a second chance, but keep a wary eye on what he does. If you find that there is a big chance of him pulling an encore, step in immediately.

That's about all there is to it. There is only so much you can do. Apart from that, the regular rules still apply - go to work with a clear head, concentrate on what you are doing, be alert at all times, and so on. And as always, remember these are just guidelines; arrow marks pointing you towards the right direction. There is no serendipitous magic potion that can put an end to all your worries. If you still find yourself getting hot under the collar, try investing in a water cooler. It will help clear that lump in your throat should that very important client of yours walk in with a sardonic grin and a pizza box.

ARJUN SENGUPTA

arjuns.hyd@cnkonline.com

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