Yesterday I was checking out at the specialist fruit and veg market when the cashier rang up the apples incorrectly. “No”, I said, “those aren’t Golden Delicious they are Cripps Pink.” (I once worked in the apple business so I am a bit of a fanatic about teaching folk about varieties.) There was a price difference and I had not realized that this would involve ringing for the supervisor.

Along she bustled, plump with importance, and to my horror, once she had heard the problem proceeded to yell at the poor cashier. She called her stupid, told her she ought to know the varieties and that she would lose her job if she wasn’t more careful. I tried to defuse the situation and off madam supervisor stormed, leaving me embarrassed and the cashier humiliated and unhappy.

Why can’t we treat mistakes as learning opportunities? How different it would have been had the supervisor said quietly “Later today, when it’s not busy, let’s go to the apple section and we can do a refresher course on which kinds are which.”  It’s not the supervisor’s fault that she behaved the way she did- she clearly has never been trained. She needs to understand you don’t get respect by shouting and you don’t motivate staff by reprimanding them in front of others. It’s simple- the store needs to train their team to look at mistakes differently.

Once you look at mistakes that you or your team make as opportunities for learning, you shift into a growth mentality. And it’s true for children too. An “Oops”, and “How can we do this differently?” from a parent will have a much better result than blaming and shaming. This morning, almost as if the universe knew about my apples, I read a post on my Facebook page that said, “If I’m wrong, educate me, don’t belittle me”. I felt like blowing that up, framing it and taking it to the supermarket to hang on their wall.


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