We all been there, the moment you realise that you have screwed up, deleted a session, made a huge mistake, not pressed record on a brilliant take, misread a situation and offended someone, the list goes on. We are sure that you are already recalling several moments when you felt your face and neck go red and hot, your stomach sink and you start to panic, but at the same time you are frozen to the spot. In this article we are going to share 6 key things to do when this happens…
1. Own Up
The first thing to do is to own up, come clean and admit you have screwed up. Do not make excuses, blame the equipment, or try and blame someone else. Digging an even bigger hole will not help, it will make it worse. Instead apologise, and be sincere, honest and admit the mistake you made simply and clearly.
It doesn’t matter whether its your boss or a client, if they get angry, let them get it off their chest, don’t interrupt them, and most importantly, don’t argue with them or get angry too, this will just make it worse and you will be back in the hole making it bigger and deeper.
2. Breather Slowly And Deeply
At this point the chances are that your body has gone into the flight or fight mode. When this happens the sympathetic nervous system is triggered, which tightens your muscles and pushes up your heart rate, all designed to get you ready to either run away or fight.
At this point it is really important to breathe as deeply and slowly as you can. In your mind harness the adrenaline and blood that will now be pumping around your system to help you to quickly think about what to say. By breathing slowly and deeply you will also lower your blood pressure and help you to start to calm down as this will trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the body to rest and digest.
3. Be Compassionate
To help you to work out what to do, consider the effects and implications, not only for the person you have upset but the impact on other people that your screw up has triggered. This might be hurt, indignance, humiliation, upset or anger but whatever it is the key here is to show compassion.
Take a moment to consider the impact of your mistake from their point of view. Even if they are angry consider the truth in what they are saying to you. Consider what are the things you can learn from, which will be helpful to you in the future.
4. Try Not To Beat Yourself Up About It
After you have messed up it is very easy to beat yourself up, you might want to hit your head against a wall. At night, you might find yourself going over and over the mistake and consider ‘what if’ instead of sleeping. Just thinking about it can retrigger all those physical symptoms that come with the fight or flight mechanism. If you do, then remember to breathe deeply and slowly, just like you should have done immediately after messing up, but this time show yourself the compassion.
Remember it was a mistake, you didn’t deliberately not press the record button, you didn’t intentionally delete the session file, you never meant to cause harm, it was a mistake, or it might have been as the result of ignorance.
The main thing is you have learnt from this and will strive not to do it again. If we are honest, none of us go through life without messing up at times. Alexander Pope said “to err is human, to forgive divine“ Remember we are all human and above all remember to forgive yourself.
5. Find A Shoulder To Cry On
To help you get past the screw up you need to find some comfort and perspective. Turn to someone you trust who knows you well enough to let you talk it through and sympathise. It could be a co-worker, or someone who understands the context, but please find someone who won’t get impatient and tell you what you should or shouldn’t have done. You need someone you can unburden yourself to and share how awful it was and how you are feeling.
This is primarily about getting it off your chest, it might be helpful if that friend can help you to see the funny side of life. The main thing here is that by sharing all this with someone you trust, will help you find new perspectives on how to view your faux pas.
Which would you prefer to do? Do you want to wallow in self pity and how awful it was, or would you prefer to see the incident as something that happened, and from which you have been able to learn and develop? Although it might not feel like it now, in time you might find that this whole incident will make a helpful anecdote to comfort others when they mess up.
6. Make It Right
The final stage is really important. You need to fix it somehow, someway. More than that you should try and go the extra mile to try and make it right, with whoever you upset or was affected by your screw up. It might be not only a free session to redo what got trashed to make it right, but to offer another free session as the ‘extra mile’.
if you react badly and blame everyone and everything else, then the person you offended will go away with a negative experience and memory of you and your faux pas, and in this small industry work will get out and your reputation will be tarnished. However, it you not only make it right and then go the extra mile then what the person will remember will be positive “Yes they screwed up but they went out of their way to fix it and then and-some”, and that is the story they will share, a much more positive affirming story than if you did nothing.