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3 Ways To Clean Up Your Mess When You Say The Wrong Thing

Being human means being imperfect. You’re going to make mistakes, and you’re going to say the wrong thing.

Even if you do, everything is still, as Marie Forleo says, “FIGUREOUTABLE”!

So what do we do when we’ve said the wrong thing and fear we’ve hurt a relationship?

Here are 3 ways to clean up your mess:

1. Acknowledge the impact.

Whatever you said or did, regardless of what your intention was, had an impact on the other person, and that impact is negative. Acknowledge the impact. Ask more about it so you understand it in full.

2. Apologize.

There is nothing like a straightforward apology without any excuses attached to it. “I’m sorry, but…” doesn’t work. It’s justifying. Neither does, “I’m sorry you’re feeling hurt.” It’s removing responsibility from your shoulders. Look them in the eyes, perhaps pause for a second so they know what you’re about to say is serious, and say, “I’m sorry I…” and leave it at that.

3. Try again.

When I’m working with my team at Trybal and one of us says the wrong thing, we call it an Etch-A-Sketch Moment. It’s when something doesn’t come out quite right, or we forget to use an important skill for having an effective conversation. The best thing to do when having an Etch-a-Sketch Moment is to acknowledge it and then request a do-over (the same way you shake up an Etch-A-Sketch and start over). This metaphor illustrates the fact that we don’t have to be perfect, that we can try again. Most people will happily grant you a do-over when they see your heart is earnest. Progress over perfection!



Tired of making the mess in the first place?

While we all make mistakes, wouldn’t it be great if we could make less of them? Especially when they involve people we see and interact with regularly? I’ve worked hard with my colleagues at Trybal Performance to create a  Strengths-based communication course. It’s called Conversation Mechanics: How to Talk About It, and it will give you and your team the tools and skills you need to have effective conversations forever! Click here to learn more and register. 

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