Ooops! How to bounce back after a mistake

file0001382919230Mistakes – we all make them and nobody is perfect. We make mistakes personally and we make mistakes professionally. As much as we try to avoid missteps, we are guaranteed to experience a few stumbles along the way.

So how do you recover after a personal faux pas or business fiasco? Honestly, the techniques for both aren’t that different.

Own it.
If you messed up, fess up. If you only come away with one thing from this post, this is the golden nugget: If it is your fault, say so. Then apologize. Then try to make it right.

I was absolutely humiliated recently when I completely forgot about an appointment with a potential business partner and received an e-mail from the person I was scheduled to meet with asking if there was another Starbucks. Ooops!

In my defense, I had experienced a massive technology debacle with my hard drive crashing and my smart phone getting stupid. I forgot to check my calendar that morning and, instead, went to buy a new laptop, completely forgetting about my appointment.

So what did I do? I called my contact immediately, owned it, and apologized profusely. (It was the first time in my professional career that I had done that!) And then I jumped in my car and met that person 45 minutes later and apologized again. Face covered in egg. Relationship saved.

Give yourself a break.
This one is for the perfectionists in the crowd: Give yourself a break. I am not perfect and neither are you. Sometimes you will look like a fool. If you are an entrepreneur, this will happen pretty frequently. Get over it and get over yourself.

If you need to desensitize yourself, go sing karaoke, take an improv class, or learn a new dance or language. You’ll get used to looking and feeling foolish pretty quickly.

I promise that it gets easier (and a whole lot less stressful) if you just look at mistakes as part of the learning process.

Poke fun at it.
Sometimes it can be incredibly anxiety provoking to know that someone might mention or notice something kind of embarrassing. You can find yourself walking on eggshells or tiptoeing around certain topics – or hoping like crazy that nobody brings a certain topic/event up. It can be easier to just bring it up yourself.

I get a lot of positive feedback about the way I don’t take myself too seriously when I give talks or do training. I am always the first one to poke fun at myself.

In one of my talks, as an example of what not to do, I often mention the fact that I can’t use Excel and it gives me hives. I point out that I am potentially unemployable at this point by the accounting firms I used to work for. I use this as a reminder that professionals need to keep their skills current. It’s an embarrassing detail for me but it cements the point I am trying to make (and it always gets a laugh from the audience).

Over to you.
Being an ostrich and hiding your head in the sand is absolutely the worst thing you can do after a stumble. Being honest and open with yourself and with others is not easy, and can be downright uncomfortable, but it will get you through it MUCH faster. I promise.

So what do you think? Do you have other suggestions? I would love to hear what works for you. Leave your comments below or reach out to us Twitter and Facebook.

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  1. How to make it to your first birthday | TDS Business - October 24, 2013

    […] As a new entrepreneur, you WILL make mistakes. Lots of them. If you have a problem with this, don’t start a business. If you need help recovering from a mistake, you can read this post on how to bounce back. […]

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