After I wrote yesterday’s article about the fact that doing damage contol immediately is of utmost importance, I realized that I needed to write a damage control part 2 blog.
The reason for writing it is because I truly believe from both personal and business experience that people do not realize that there are steps they need to take.
Hey it’s your reputation – if you don’t give a you-know-what about your reputation stop reading this right now. If you do give a you-know-what then you are reading the right blog.
We all make mistakes. We all screw up. Many times a sincere apology will be the fix that is needed and we move on hopefully with our bruised feelings bandaged and we heal.
Quick apologies work. They work especially well when the infraction isn’t detrimental to someone’s well being both emotionally and physically. If you forgot your best friend’s birthday you are probably in the dog house. You can get out of it – best friends can move past it. Now if it is your spouse’s birthday that might be a horse of a different color.
Move on – that’s the next step. That waiter that did not take your order quickly apologizes, you get served no one is hurt, we all move on – it works.
What if what you did or what someone in your company did caused someone else a much more serious problem? What if what you did could seriously damage your reputation? What if what you did hurt someone deeply? What if…..what if……what if…..there are more – we both know that.
The first thing you absolutely must do is own it.
Playing the blame game or dodging responsibility is only going to make it worse. Instead, admit your mistake and face up to the consequences.
Why? People want to see you own it. They want to see you admit you were wrong and they want to hear your apology.
Guess what comes next – the apology.
If you’ve caused pain or headaches to the people around you, they’re going to want an apology—and not one of those fake, “I’m sorry if you were offended,” BS statements that sounds like you are putting the responsibility on others. Be specific in your acknowledgement so that people know you really understand the problem.
Now it’s time to figure out how this happened and how to keep it from happening again.
Once you’ve owned up to the mistake and apologized, try to figure out how it happened and how such errors can be avoided in the future. It’s important to consult other people who were affected by the mistake (if any) and look for ways to make things better.
If you don’t give a hoot and your actions were deliberate then you need to be on a psychiatrist’s couch because malicious behavior has a diagnosis somewhere and you need help.
What happens next is usually we beat ourselves up.
Mistakes can be embarrassing, and it’s easy to get stuck in the groove of beating yourself up. It does no good to throw yourself at your victim’s feet over and over again. You admitted it. You apologized. You tried to make it right and ensure it never happens again. Apologizing repeatedly can be a sign of weakness and actually hurt your credibility,
Your job is to learn from it.
And then grow better from it.
All of these steps are very important. Don’t ever think that just walking away will work. Walking away is stupid. Your reputation will suffer. People will talk. You will be the subject of their talk. Don’t ever think you can do this and it won’t matter. People’s feelings matter a lot. What was it that Maya Angelou said?
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I like this quote but I am going to say it my way:
“If you do something to someone – make it better NOW because people will accept your apology, they may not forget what you did but they will move on, forgetting how you made them feel though will always be there.” – Carole Sanek, 2015