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Overcoming failure in the office

No one is immune to failure, but there are a few things you can do to pick up the pieces and move forward — whether you’re an employee or a manager. Here are a few things to keep in mind the next time it happens to you.

Choose your words wisely

Be clear about what went wrong — just don’t use annoying jargon.

The Harvard Business Review features commentary from Ben Dattner, an organizational psychologist and author of The Blame Game, on what managers can do to get their teams back on track after failure.

“Don’t sugar coat what happened or resort to ‘corporate speak’ that abdicates responsibility. Avoid phrases like ‘let’s look on the bright side,’ ‘we’re lucky it happened this way,’ ‘we suboptimized,’ or ‘a mistake was made.’ Instead, be clear: ‘We missed the deadline because we didn’t take into account how long each task would take.’ When you focus on the facts, Dattner says, you can call it like it is without being demotivating,” the publication reads.

Take control of your own self-improvement

John Rampton, an investor, entrepreneur, online marketing guru and founder of online payment company Due, writes about his business going under in Inc., mentioning that he lost all his money after the startup was sold because “the wave had already reached its crest.” One of his pieces of advice on failure is to “actively decide to change.”

“It’s one thing to say you would like to change and it’s another thing to be forced into reinventing ourselves. If you are wanting to change, but merely talking about it, the result may be that you don’t put the real effort into making the necessary changes that are required. Instead, you have to consciously decide to change and actually have an action that you do to accomplish this,” Rampton writes. “I had to tell myself that I did not want to be broke so I was going to take the necessary steps to lift myself out of that financial state. Half the battle in reinventing yourself is the mental opponent that stands in the way. It’s that nagging little scummy creature in your mind that tells you that you ‘can’t’ — or ‘it won’t work.’ Banish that enemy.”

Process what happened — until a specific time

Allison Task, a career and life coach, writes in Reader’s Digest that you should “set a deadline” for feeling down after failure.

“After you’ve grieved the loss, you come to a point where it’s time to re-engage. Depending on the nature of the mistake, it may be a matter of hours or it could take a few weeks. After you grieve, make a commitment to move on. Set the deadline based on your needs. And when that time comes, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back to it. The closure will help you re-engage and reemerge in the world again. And if you’ve had a thorough post-mortem, then you’re walking back into the challenge knowing what you did wrong and what you’ll do differently next time,” she continues.

Read about how others have failed too

Patrick Allan, an author, screenwriter and staff writer at Lifehacker, recommends on the site that you read up on how others have failed in order to get out of your own head.

“What successful person do you look up to? Take a look at the failures they’ve encountered in their lives and work. Read biographies, blogs, and listen to speeches. Successful people talk about failure just as much as they talk about success, and it’s because they respect how important it is to embrace it. Even the greatest people in our world have fallen, and fallen hard at one point or another,” he writes.

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