First of all I want to express that I feel this question belongs in here and not in workplace because it's an interpersonal thing more than a work thing and I'd like a more general answer.

So I was talking (via slack) with my project manager and she asked me to take a look at a document to double check it, I found a mistake and made her know and she said that was dumb of me. I didn't know what to say afterwards so I waited for her next message to continue the conversation but it took a few minutes while she fixed the mistake.

What is something that you can answer when someone calls themselves dumb without being rude or inappropriate? I feel like laughing it of and or agreeing would be very rude.


2 Answers 2


I am dumb is different than that was dumb of me. A smart person can do a dumb thing.

The main problem is that this is over text and not in person.

I would answer with "Well, it's easy enough to fix! I know you'll catch it next time!"

Or "Proof that even smart people sometimes make mistakes! ;)"

Or "Thanks for fixing it, the rest is excellent."

I know that emojis aren't professional, but they help in messaging because you can't convey feeling.

When a person berates themselves they are often looking for positive reassurance that this isn't the norm for them and that you appreciate them. Of course if it were me, it would be something I would say when I made a stupid mistake. Not to fish for a compliment but to let the other person know that I understand the mistake.


I agree with only_pro that you're overinterpreting your boss' comment a little bit, but I think that the most general response (which you can use with anyone, including someone you don't know well) which accomplishes your goal is to emphasize how small of an issue it is:

Other person: Wow, that was dumb of me!

You: Nah, everyone does [whatever mistake happened] sometimes.

This lets you respond directly to the comment, reassure the other person that their mistake was not very important, and reject the stated premise that the mistake happening indicates that that person is dumb (or whatever word they use).

This explicitly addresses the goals stated in the question given your preference for not brushing off the comment. However, in nearly all situations only_pro's suggestion would also be considered appropriate. It's a rare situation where someone makes this sort of "I'm dumb" comment and really means it.

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