How to rebuild your confidence after making a mistake at work

If you make a mistake at work it can put your inner critic in overdrive. But there are some easy steps you can take to learn from your errors and build your confidence back. Here’s how:

Remember, setbacks are progress in disguise. Each one is a learning experience, which will grow your skill set and your self-confidence.


Reflect and take responsibility

The first step is to acknowledge what has happened, reflect honestly on why, and what you could have done differently. Talk about it with a friend or (if appropriate) a colleague or your boss. You may find that writing your reflections down will help them to become clearer.

Then perform any necessary practical and professional steps to take responsibility for your actions. Of course, this will depend on what transpired , e.g. re-do the work, apologise. If you’re not sure how best to deal with the situation, don’t hesitate to seek advice.

By taking these two steps, you will learn from the experience, and move past it, having grown. This process is not necessarily easy, but staying true to it is very important.

Take strength and inspiration from the famous American inventor Thomas Edison’s attitude towards failure,

“I have not failed; I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.



To regain control of your inner critic, turn your focus onto your past wins big and small. Also create attainable short-term goals to identify new successes.  

These celebrations will boost your inner confidence. If you set a series of smaller goals after a set back, when you meet those goals you will re-build the blocks of self-confidence that have been chipped away by your negative experience.


Step out of your comfort zone

Once you have set and achieved a series of smaller goals, and your confidence is on the mend, dare to step out of your comfort zone.

To do this you have to first recognize what your comfort zone is, and how it might be limiting you.

Try to think afresh about your approach to how you work based on what you have learned in the past. Think about how and why you approach certain tasks, and question them? What do you stop short of doing because you’re worried they won’t work or feel intimidated?

Insanity is often defined as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. Deploy creative new ways of tackling problems and watch your confidence soar.


Body language

If we change our body language, it can alter how we feel about ourselves, and also how others perceive us. There was a very interesting TED talk, given by Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy, based upon her research about how body position impacts self-confidence, and maybe even our own body chemistry.

Use body positions that assume confidence, and the theory goes that you will begin to think and feel more confident. So, consider your posture and walk tall, remember to make eye contact, and smile.  


Our confident conclusion!

Everyone makes mistakes, and we all fail to reach our potential at times.

Making a mistake  at work may weigh heavy at first, but with hindsight it will seem inconsequential and lead to valuable outcomes.

If you can turn a negative experience into something positive, by the way you react to it, you will grow personally and professionally.

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