Messing up at work is an embarrassment to you and a lot of trouble for the people around you.

Making a mistake happens to everyone, but what you do after that will be far more important.

“I’m sorry,” is the most common answer when a major disaster happens, but what if there are phrases or actions that would be much better. Actions do speak louder than words, so there may be better statements that you can make to convey your accountability. You will serve yourself and your career if you consider these four ideas instead of a common apology.

It will never happen again.

When a mistake happens it is logical to most people to figure out a reactionary response. They want to mitigate the chances of it ever happening again even if the risk is low. You can meet this instinct head on by not only acknowledging the mistake but assuring them that it will never happen again.

How can I make this right?

Of course, words are just words and it is most important what you do about the situation after it has happened. Your next question should immediately be “how can I make this right?” This will give you both a chance to determine the right next steps and the best way to resolve the problem.

I really messed up.

Taking responsibility for your actions is also critical. Many people immediately look for an outlet for their blame, whether that is another person or situations supposedly beyond their control. Instead, if you let someone know that you were the one that messed up it can go a long way to helping heal the relationship.

I take full responsibility.

Of course, you can go one step further and specifically express that you take full responsibility for your actions. This is many steps beyond an apology and can start the conversation toward solutions rather than blame. You will also demonstrate that you are willing to learn from your own mistakes and make them right.

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