How To Turn a Mistake into a Trust-Building Opportunity

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash (my edit)

One day, in my late teens, my dad and I were in the car together on our way from my hometown to the university from which I would earn my bachelor’s degree. I don’t remember how it came up, but we were talking about jobs we’d had, and he was telling me about his first radio gigs.

He had wanted to go into radio, and he had a wonderful voice for it. But he was petrified. It took a minute for him to build up his confidence in terms of recording commercials, but you couldn’t deny that he had a talent for it when he found his groove.

But you couldn’t record commercials without clients.

Being new at the gig, my dad hadn’t yet committed to memory the going rate of airtime at different times of day and on different days of the week. He under-quoted someone by about 50%.

When he realized what he’d done, he knew there was only one thing for it: he had to own the mistake. He gave the guy a quote, and the guy had accepted.

And so my dad went to his boss and told him to take the difference out of his pay. Then, he went to the client and explained what had happened.

This small act of authenticity and transparency so impressed the client that he stayed a client of my dad’s — exclusively — for nearly 30 years. Being able to say, “I messed up, but I gave you my word, and I’m going to honor that,” is a powerful thing. Character and integrity matter in relationships, whether it’s business or personal, and my dad knew that.

I always try to be as authentic as possible in my dealings with others, and I’ve found that most people appreciate my candor. They hear me speak in such a way that makes them understand me to be a trustworthy person.

It isn’t that I always find it easy to conduct myself in this way, because I don’t. But it’s better to admit you’ve made mistakes and out yourself as an imperfect being than it is to be a dick about it.

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London Graves

London Graves

Queer vegan cryptid trying their best to survive late-stage capitalism while helping others do the same.