Don’t Let It “Slide By”

So today I had a choice before me. It was about having to inform someone of a potential mistake that would be the difference between having a “feather in my cap” or not for my professional portfolio.

Now, it wasn’t whether I should or should not inform the individual because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t inform them. Rather, it was how should I inform the person of the potential mistake.

It’s hard to ask someone if they made a possible error, especially when its in reference to positive acknowledgement. And regardless the situation, it’s hugely humbling and very uncomfortable. 

But how does one do that, without insulting them or making them feel embarrassed or disrespected?

I struggled all day with it.

After asking advice from several friends and mentors, I came to the following conclusions:

  1. Just be honest
  2. Be strong and confident in ethics, values and convictions
  3. Come from a place of humility, genuine care and respect
  4. Acknowledge that mistakes can happen and regardless the situation they should be addressed to help ensure integrity
  5. Come from a place of helping rather than accusing
  6. Be yourself

Ethical choices are difficult. And this one was a doozy. I think partly because I had to stand by my ethics and values and confirm whether or not I deserved that “feather”. But also how to genuinely address whether or not someone has made a mistake without being accusatory. 

Situations where someone makes a mistake but we could gain from it if we keep our mouths shut are all around us. They could be situations such as getting more change than what we should have been given when shopping, whether or not we met criteria perfectly for a position or award, when a mistake happens and we don’t take responsibility for it, or allowing someone to assume details about work having been done by an individual when it was performed by a group, and the list goes on.

But if we allow those to “slide by”, how does that make us better human beings? How does that help move our society forward? How does that example leadership, responsibility and respect to ourselves, our colleagues and our students? 

It doesn’t.

So long story short, its not fun, sometimes it sucks, it’s HORRIBLY uncomfortable, but address it and help ensure integrity, honesty and example those key traits I mention above to those around you.

Just some food for thought from my day today 🙂

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!


Published by Brian

I am currently the Assistant Director of Student Life for Registered Student Organizations and Late-Night Programming at Michigan State University. After earning my B.A. from the University of Michigan-Flint, I entered the Student Affairs profession. After a few years in the field, I returned to school and earned my M.A. in Educational Leadership-Higher Education Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University. In my spare time I blog about my thoughts and musings on current issues in higher education, student affairs, digital worlds, identity development and general life inspirations and observations. I also volunteer a lot for my fraternity and multiple regional and national professional associations.

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