We all do things from time to time without thinking. Whether it’s an inadvertent comment, a misstep, a blunder or whatever you want to call it, we do it. Sometimes we call that something a “stupid mistake” or something worse. Whatever it is, it’s embarrassing. It is! But how often do you let that feeling of embarrassment get in the way of apologizing and moving on?
Look, we all do it. Whether it’s a comment or assumption or an action, it’s not intentional. We’re human! We make mistakes! There is not a perfect soul among us.
The feeling of embarrassment after one of these missteps is also very normal. From there, it’s all too easy to turn a simple misstep into something more in our moment of cringe. So don’t. Accept your imperfections, accept that you make mistakes — and so does everyone else — swallow your pride and apologize. Then move on.
Don’t get defensive or justify
When you feel embarrassed after a faux pas, when you feel that cringe, it’s easy to take a defensive stance. No one wants to make mistakes or look “dumb” or whatever. Instead of stepping up and saying, “Yeah, I just said something incredibly off-the-mark and I’m sorry,” you may feel the desire to cover your steps somehow. Whether it’s blaming misinformation or saying, “But I meant…” or trying to justify in some way, the intent is the same: trying to deflect from your faux pas and not look so silly.
It doesn’t work, however, and it may even make things worse.
Just say it
So next time you say that not right thing, next time you make the faux pas, try not deflecting or getting defensive or justifying. Try just saying, “I’m really sorry.” You can add, “I’m so embarrassed to have said something so off-the -mark,” if you must, but keep it short and simple. Accept that you do and will make silly missteps in your life, apologize and move on.
That’s the final step: moving on. It means don’t dwell on these missteps, either the misstep itself or the embarrassment of them, and move forward. But it also means learning from missteps and faux pas, so the next time you are in a similar situation, you don’t make the same mistake again.
Making mistakes can feel very embarrassing. It can. But letting that embarrassment get in the way of an appropriate apology just compounds the initial mistake. Swallow that pride, embrace your cringe, say you’re sorry and move on. You’ll be surprised how much better it feels!
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