Wikipedia:Mea culpa

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"mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa." – You don't need to beat yourself up when you make a mistake

Often the ability to admit that one was in the wrong can very quickly lead to productivity. It is expected that any person will make a mistake once in a while, but it is essential that a person be able to realize, accept, and do their best to remedy their errors once realized or pointed out.

Inherent human nature dictates that no one is perfect. It is simply not possible for a person to avoid making a mistake or two from time to time. Yet admitting a mistake willingly can build character and makes it possible to react to the error in a very productive fashion. This can help alleviate guilt and distrust within the group and helps to foster a more collaborative environment.

You don't need to beat yourself up if you make a mistake and seeking punishment for a good faith error of others quickly blurs into a witchhunt. A much more reasoned and productive path is to seek to repair or mitigate any damage the error may have caused.

How to notice a mistake[edit]

The first step in recognizing and repairing a mistake is realizing you made one. Below are some signs that you may have made a mistake:

  • People are telling you that you have made a mistake.
  • Things seem to have gotten worse due to something you have done.
  • You have a feeling that you have done something wrong; please trust your instincts on this matter.
  • If you have never made a mistake, then you are probably due.

How to check for mistakes[edit]

Actually, if you are a prolific editor, you might easily end up making 1 mistake every 100 edits or so. It is imperative to catch as many mistakes as possible.

  • Ask others "have I made a mistake"?
  • Ask other people how they might solve particular situations better.
  • Have people check your work on a regular basis, to make sure you're not going off-track.
  • Make your user talk page as welcoming as possible.
  • Reply promptly to any reports you get, and be thankful.

Entry and exit stratagems[edit]

Accept the fact that you are going to make mistakes. Don't be afraid of them. Instead, work defensively, try to anticipate how things can go wrong, and try to figure out ways to mitigate those situations before they occur. Then, if you did judge the situation wrong, you'll immediately know what to do, and won't panic.

If you are caught in a situation where you don't know what to do, solicit advice from others, and follow it!

In summary, be prepared to exit as gracefully as possible, and have that preparation done before you even go into any particular situation.

"Know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, know when to run."

Attract assumptions of good faith[edit]

The way you behave can help a lot in how people accept your behavior. Being graceful, asking for advice, and showing that you are listening to people can go a long way to attracting an assumption of good faith.

Oddly, by being prepared to walk away, for some reason people will actually be more likely to accept your ideas. Possibly this has to do with the fact that you are more relaxed, and can think more clearly (and thus argue more clearly for your position).

How to react well to your mistake[edit]

When reacting to your mistake it may be best to start by assessing the damage. Ask yourself what damage has been caused:

  • Have you offended someone, or otherwise treated someone unfairly?
  • Have you damaged something?
  • Have you prolonged a dispute?

Debriefing, what to do when things start going back to normal[edit]

  • Figure out what went wrong
  • Figure out why it went wrong
  • Figure out ways to prevent things from going wrong in future
  • Learn from the above
  • Say sorry for what you did wrong
  • Be glad about what you did right
  • Write down what you learned. (Anyone may write an essay, "if it ain't written down it never happened")

See also[edit]