What Comes After “Oops”
We all make mistakes. In fact, we made a particularly dumb one here in this blog just last week. You know, the blog where we preached about the importance of paying attention to every little detail. It reminds me of my days as a magazine editor. We’d comb every inch of a story searching for the tiniest of errors, and when the issue hit the stands, there it was – a big ol’ typo right there in the headline. These things just seem to happen at the worst possible place and time.
So, how do you respond, if at all? What comes after “oops?” The first thing we did was to send out another e-blast with the subject line spelled correctly. But that was just a weekly e-blast. Sometimes the stakes on mistakes can be much higher.
Take immediate steps to correct the mistake. One critical difference between print and digital is that, once it’s on paper, that’s it. That’s why The New York Times prints corrections on page 2 the day after a foul up (yes, even they make mistakes). The digital world is another story. You can pull something down (although The Times has a policy against that), or make whatever corrections need to be made quickly and quietly. But go ahead and accept the blame.
Own up to it
You messed up. We all do it. Admit it. Owning up to our mistakes right away saves time and a lot of unnecessary anxiety on the part of everyone involved. You can then move on and get things right.
Learn from it
Bestselling author Brené Brown, who has referred to herself as a “recovering perfectionist,” believes that our stumbles make us more human and, in the end, more likable.
“The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable.” Brown says. “But our wholeness—even our wholeheartedness—actually depends on the integration of all of our experiences, including the falls.” But Oscar Wilde may have expressed it best when he said, “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”
Don’t dwell on it
Move on. Don’t obsess about what went wrong. Channel that energy into moving forward and solving the problem. The philosopher Eckhart Tolle tells the story of two ducks in a pond who suddenly break into a fight. When they’re done with their spat they just as suddenly “shake it off” and swim away, back to the more pressing concerns of the present without a thought to what just occurred. Be like a duck.
And finally, and perhaps most importantly…
Proof read everything…twice!