by Karen Firestone

Why is it so hard for most of us to say, “I did it”?

Many people are afraid of appearing incompetent in front of our colleagues and bosses. But what we sometimes don’t realize is that it is worse to be viewed as a coward incapable of owning up to mistakes or accepting criticism. Rather than saying, “The plate dropped,” it is good practice to say, “I dropped the plate” — especially if that is exactly what happened. The best executives and investors “drop plates” all the time; without doing so, they would lack experience and a healthy understanding of risk.

Developing a culture where people feel comfortable admitting mistakes needs to start at the top, because employees watch their leaders for clues on acceptable behavior and etiquette. One of the most valuable things that a manager can teach her staff is the ability (no matter how embarrassing) to show fallibility, admit wrongdoing, listen to tough feedback, and persevere through the corrective action toward the next challenge.

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