Performance Communication

Stop lying and making excuses for your mistakes and just admit you screwed up

Stop lying and making excuses for your mistakes and just admit you screwed up

Today has not been a good day.

It started off badly when the GPS on my phone and the one in my car contradicted each other with the fastest route to get to my workshop and I didn’t know which one to follow. Then, when I got to my destination, the payment machine for the parking lot didn’t accept American Express and I discovered my Visa had expired (luckily I found a MasterCard buried at the bottom of my purse.) Although my workshop went well from the participant perspective, I didn’t feel like I was on my game, so I wasn’t pleased with myself. About 30 minutes before the end of the workshop I started seeing “static” in my line of vision, which is the sign that an ocular migraine is starting . . . which it did. I managed to make it home without incident and was able to head off the migraine with medicine. By the time I got home, I was feeling a little better and thought I’d get a jump start prepping for a meeting I have scheduled for next week with a potential new client. Then all of a sudden, a little chime on my phone told me that the meeting I was prepping for was actually starting in 10 minutes- TODAY!

In almost 25 years of being in business, a mistake like this has never happened to me! In a panic, I started thinking about what I could say to excuse my scheduling error. Not only had I had a crappy day to this point, but I’m in the middle of a move and made the appointment on my phone, which is a lot harder to see my calendar than when I’m working on my laptop. Then I started thinking about potential not-so-honest excuses I could give that might present myself in a better light. Should I tell the potential client I had a migraine and couldn’t get there (a half truth/but really not)? Should I say I had car trouble? What would be an acceptable STORY that would gain me forgiveness for my mistake and put me back on track being seen as a professional who doesn’t miss appointments?

The answer was . . . nothing.

So, I called the client and basically said, “I screwed up.” I apologized, and I said I had no excuse other than my mistake of putting the appointment on the wrong date. I tried to assure her that this was not a reflection of how I do business and asked if we could reschedule.  She said she’d get back to me once she’d checked with the others who were going to be part of the meeting. I’m not sure if she will or not, and I wouldn’t blame her if she didn’t.

Sometimes when we screw up, there are great, understandable REASONS for our mistakes, but the bottom line, when someone else has been wronged or inconvenienced, our reasons just sound like excuses and they probably don’t want to hear them and they wouldn’t believe them if they did. The best course of action is to just admit your mistake, apologize, perhaps share how you’ll avoid the mistake again, and ask the other person if you can both move forward.

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