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Damage Control Tips For a Workplace Disaster
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Being a professional doesn't make anyone perfect. Mishaps can happen to anyone whether the situation is in or out of our control. Unfortunately, not everyone gets their own PR team to lessen the blow. If you find yourself in one of these embarrassing, awkward, or inappropriate situations, there are different approaches you can use to ease your way out.
And since turning back time isn't an option (no matter how hard we wish), not handling the situation the right way can add injury to insult.

Here are 5 tips to help you deal with a work move you wish didn't happen (but did):

1) Own up to it.

Shifting blame for an awkward situation only escalates the severity of it. By not acknowleding your fault up front, it makes for an even more difficult recovery. For others watching you avert the situation, it's like watching a collision. People can tell when you're either too ashamed to take responsibilty or attempting to be devious. Neither are good characteristics of a colleague and this could damage your reputation in the long run. Fess up and apologize when necessary.

2) Take immediate action.

Simply admitting fault doesn't cut it. You also have to the measures to rectify your actions. Leaving the situation be can harm your career. People will look at you differently no matter what so it's better to have look at your differently but still in a good way. Taking action shows that there is sincere regret or remorse for whatever damage you may have caused. What if you don't know what to do? It doesn't hurt to ask. In this case, it would show a great deal for your character to seek advice for fixing the situation.

3) Provide an explanation.

No context for your story means leaves your mistake open to interpretation--and that's not a good thing. In order for people to see your side of things, you have to be able to explain your reasons for doing what you did. Once they already know about it they're not going to forget so why let carry on making assumptions? Allow them to give you the benefit of the doubt but coming clean. As the old adage goes, "the truth will set you free."

4) Show growth.

Make it clear that you've learned something. Part of making mistakes is fixing them and learning from them. If you can't show that you were able to grasp the lesson resulting from your misjudgment people won't buy that you actually believe you did anything wrong. Problems are worse right after they happen and can only get better from there. Keep this in mind and try to make all the right moves there on out.

5) Do a follow up.

If the incident is still on your mind it's likely to also be others'. Check with them to reinforce the fact that your mistake is still something that you haven't just brushed off your shoulders. No matter what the severity, mistakes are something that should be taken as a lesson learned. That being the case, what you've learned should be apparent in your actions from that point on.
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