Mistakes are human and avoidable
Early in my career as a Public Relations accounts executive, I was asked to plan and coordinate a client’s donation to a homeless babies’ home.
I took on the assignment with enthusiasm, getting all the parties involved so that all arrived at the venue on time except the host, who I forgot to reconfirm with!
It was a moment of self-condemnation!
Unfortunately or fortunately, mistakes are a part of our lives. The earlier we accept this, the easier it is to handle the repercussions.
Joseph Hallinan an American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of the book ‘Why we make Mistakes’ argues that the very way we think, see and remember sets us up for mistakes.
“We are subconsciously biased, quick to judge by appearances and over confident of our own abilities. Most of us believe we are above average at everything which is a statistical impossibility that leads to slip-ups”, he says.
However, the question is, should we continue to err, because mistakes are innate?
For some professions like medical personnel, the consequences can be fatal. An incorrect diagnosis can lead to a wrong drug prescription. The surgeon may make a cut where he or she was not supposed to.
In Public Relations, the risk of tainting a client’s image is unacceptable. This may include unverified statistics in a press release; miss-spelling names in a caption; a misplaced picture with the wrong caption; the list is endless!
Under these circumstances, it is crucial to ensure there are systems in place, such as proof-reading of communication documents by two or more senior colleagues; agreed avenues to cross-check information and opportunities to ask as many questions when one is not sure without necessarily feeling stupid. These precautions will help save us costly embarrassments.
Another point is to recap important conversations in writing and sometimes have audio recordings to ensure that every relevant detail is captured; continuously practice the art of best practices in writing, speaking, relating; etc.
While it is normal to make mistakes, it is possible to minimize them as much as possible