Building Relationships through Failure

Learning from failure has personal and professional benefits. How you behave when faced with disappointments and setbacks, says a lot about your character. Your response to failure can even enhance your relationships. Learning how to fail with grace, influences how others see you, and how they approach working with you.

Embracing failure as a learning and growing opportunity reveals your humanity and humility. Achievement is exciting and talking about your achievements can be even more so. People congratulate you, marvel at how you did it, and ask for details, or share their own aspirations. But sharing your setbacks or failures feels more problematic, will you be scorned, ignored, pitied? Will you lose out on future work projects and promotions? But everyone fails from time to time, even your boss and coworkers. Owning your failures helps other realize that failure is universal, but how it’s dealt with can vary. Yes, failure shows others you are fallible.

But instead of hiding mistakes, you acknowledge, and correct them. Failure does not have to be the elephant in the room, it can be examined and used to improve. Not only can you learn from it, so can others. Acknowledging failure demonstrates integrity. Accepting and owning your mistakes makes others more willing to work with you.

You aren’t going to blame them when something goes wrong. You’re not going to abdicate your responsibility, everyone fails. Not everyone responds to it admirably, and that builds trust. It makes you easier to relate to, and work with. Being transparent about your mistakes shows you to be honest, it encourages others to be more open and honest around you, and more willing to take risks and risk failure themselves.

Learning from your failures and sharing what you’ve learned makes you more approachable. Rather than avoiding you, people are often more willing to approach you as a resource. Your experiences impart a sense of authority and authenticity that others tend to respond positively to.

Humility, responsibility, integrity, trust, and approachability these are leadership qualities, whether you hold a leadership position or not they are qualities that other people admire and gravitate toward. Acknowledging and learning from your mistakes makes you a better and more desirable manager, coworker, and person. Obviously no one wants to fail or specifically seeks it out. Yet at some point or another, everyone experiences it anyway.

How you react to it, whether to shun and deny it, or embrace and learn from it affects your relationships at work and in the outside world. You can either enhance those relationships or put up buffers around them, the choice is yours.

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