How to learn from your mistakes


BY Tess O'Callaghan

{Project Manager, Designer, Developer}

12 January 2018

Reading Time: 2 minutes

No-one walks into a job and nails everything straight away. We need to take time to get to know the work and take in as much feedback as possible.

  • We all make mistakes.
  • We are always learning.
  • We should always be improving.

Sometimes we’ll make mistakes (it happens to the best of us!) and the way in which we handle those mistakes sends a very important message.



If someone is giving you feedback, stop what you’re doing and take it in.



Don’t just say nothing. Ensure you understand the issue or mistake. Ensure you know what you could do differently next time.



Learn from it. Show that you understand.



Now, let’s dive deeper.

What’s the best way to give constructive criticism?

  • Take the time to do it properly. If you are in a hurry, it may not come out the way you want it to. Don’t do it if you feel emotional. It can wait.
  • Speak privately to the person, not in front of a group.
  • Give actual feedback. Don’t just tell someone they’re wrong. Eg. Instead of saying “You shouldn’t have sent that email”, say “Next time you send an email like that, can you please run it by me first”
  • Don’t forget to mention anything that the colleague did do well on that task (not unrelated successes).
  • Pick your battles. You don’t need to comment on every little mistake. Discuss the important ones.


What’s the best way to receive constructive criticism?

  • Don’t say nothing. Don’t just say “ok”.
  • Make sure you understand exactly what you did wrong and what is required of you in future.
  • Make some notes on what you might do differently next time.
  • Show that you understand by rectifying things yourself or improving on your performance next time something like this comes up.
  • Speak up if the criticism is out of line or chat to another colleague afterwards if you feel like it is not something you need to change.
  • If you are unsure, take time to think before you act.


Focus on how these situations can be productive. No party should fixate on excuses or blame. Apologise where it’s due and communicate ways to avoid it next time.

No matter how old you are or how long you’ve been in your field, there is always more to learn. Be open to change and constructive feedback.

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Tess O'Callaghan

With experience in all of the elements required to build an outstanding website (plus organisation, creativity and great communication skills!), Tess oversees all of our web projects. Never taking her finger off the pulse, she will be your guiding star during your time working with Digital Noir.