I think it can be said that the measure of a person or even a company can be seen in how they react to mistakes. I think we can all say that there was quite a big oops during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics when that pesky fifth ring didn’t light properly. Yes, it was a mistake and it was embarrassing, but there was no going back and fixing it. So what to do?
It would have been easy to lash out at the critics and comedians that got quite a bit of airtime in dishing about the failure. But instead the director of the games turned the tables and made fun of himself and in turn took a negative and turned it into a positive.
During the closing ceremonies several ice dancers took the stage and lit it up to reenact that oops, it was brilliant. You can see the picture here – http://www.olympic.org/photos/sochi-2014-closing-ceremony-41. Immediately I thought, I would love to meet that guy or work with him.
We all make mistakes, personally and professionally. If you don’t, then I want to meet you too and know your secret. Sometimes those mistakes are monumental and they take a lot of smoothing over, but regardless, the best thing we can do is acknowledge them and refrain from becoming defensive and, if appropriate, try to find some humor in it. Hopefully, you can help the recipient of your mistake find some humor in it too (again if appropriate). And remember mistakes are unintentional. If you’re intentionally messing up, then this blog probably isn’t for you.
If you’ve made a mistake with a customer, apologize immediately and try to remedy the situation as soon as possible. I think you will find most people will be understanding when you take this course of action. Of course, there are always those few that will take you through the ringer, but just remember it was a mistake and not to beat yourself up over it. Learn from it and move on.
And just remember to be thankful that our mistakes aren’t televised and publicized for the whole world to see.
Doesn’t that make you feel better?