OK, you screwed up. Something’s gone horribly, horribly wrong, and it’s all your fault. And now, it’s time to pay the piper.
Maybe you lost your company’s big client. Maybe you forgot to do a critical part of that big project. Maybe you weren’t there for someone when they needed you, even when you said you would be. Whatever the situation, someone trusted you to do a job and you failed.
Now you’ve got to tell them.
The instinctive reaction to a situation like this is “duck and cover” — protect yourself by any means necessary. Depending on how badly you screwed us, it could mean the end of your job, your career, your relationship, your status, or your reputation.