Don’t let mistakes at work bring you down. Our guide has the four steps you need to fix any issue like a pro. Own up, learn from it and come out on top.

Let’s face it, people make mistakes all the time. It’s called being human. But when you make a mistake at work, it’s easy to let your imagination go into overdrive — so much so you might find yourself buckling under the weight of some heavy-duty worst-case scenarios.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Sure, you need to give yourself time to feel whatever you’re feeling, whether embarrassment, shame, or some other unpleasant emotion. But don’t dwell on it. Feel the feels, and then move on. Our four-step guide will help.

1. own your mistake

It might be tempting to cover up your mistake. After all, if you stay silent, what are the chances anyone would even notice? This might sound like the right call — until it isn’t: If the cat gets out of the bag, it will be the cover-up that gets you, not your initial mistake.

Tough as it sounds, you need to own your mistake, which is about more than “not covering up.” When you own your mistake, you acknowledge your role and apologize to the people negatively affected by your error — without being defensive, trying to excuse your actions or blaming another co-worker.

Here’s what happens when you take ownership of your mistake: You’re showing your boss you have the integrity to be accountable for your actions. And you may even discover your mistake isn’t as big or awful as you thought. Not to mention, your boss or a co-worker might have an easy solution you weren’t aware of.

2. take whatever steps you can to correct your mistake

Taking ownership of your mistake also means doing everything you can to correct things. If this means going the extra mile, then yes, go that extra mile. And communicate your plan for fixing your mistake to your boss and anyone else involved so they know you’re on top of the situation.

But what if your mistake has caused a situation you’re not in a position to fix? Ask for feedback and suggestions. Reach out to the people who might have a solution — and let them know you’re willing to help in any way you can. Keep your boss in the loop by telling them what you’re doing to fix the problem, as well as any issues you may not be able to solve.

3. learn from your mistake

If this sounds cliché, it’s because it’s true: Every mistake presents an opportunity to learn. So once you’ve done everything you can to fix things, take a step back and review the situation to see why the mistake happened. Then figure out what changes you need to make to make sure it won’t happen again.

For example, let’s say you’re a packer in a warehouse during the run-up to the holiday season,  and you cut a corner that shouldn’t have been cut. Examine why you felt pressured to cut that corner. Maybe you need to learn how to prioritize your work tasks better. Or perhaps you said yes to a late night out without thinking about your early start to the day the next morning. Once you understand why things happened the way they did, you can take any necessary steps to ensure you don’t put yourself in a similar situation again.

4. be diligent about rebuilding trust

Realistically speaking, unless you made a mistake with serious negative consequences or have a bad habit of always making mistakes, you will probably not be fired (despite all the worst-case scenarios your imagination so helpfully dreamed up for you). But you might find people have lost trust in you.

Accept this loss of trust, and move on by being diligent. Rebuild trust by showing up to work as the peak performer you are. It won’t happen overnight, but people will likely forget even serious mistakes, eventually — especially when your work consistently reminds them they can trust you to do your job well.

In a perfect world, no one would make mistakes. But we don’t live in a perfect world, which means mistakes will — and do — happen. So if you have to deal with making a mistake at work, take a deep breath and salvage the situation by taking ownership of your blunder.

Want to stay ahead of the curve in your career? You’ll find plenty more expert tips and insights in our career advice section.