First published in HuffPost Australia (25 March 2016) by Libby-Jane Charleston
We have all been in that screamingly dreadful position where we have said the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time.
It might be asking a lady, who is not pregnant, when her baby is due. It might be asking a gentleman if he’s enjoying being a grandpa, only to learn that he is the child’s father.
But how do you fix a terrible first impression? Author and communications expert Anneli Blundell told The Huffington Post Australia there were three golden rules to follow.
The three rules for recovery
- Eat humble pie
- Take ownership
- Reach out and build a bridge as quickly as possible
“The first thing is to call it out," Blundell told HuffPost Australia.
"Put it on the table and don’t pretend it didn’t happen – that’ll make it worse.
"When people are left to their own devices, they’ll form their own opinion. So, when it comes to bouncing back, you want to help them make a new impression. Don’t leave it to them."
This is where humble pie comes in.
"They are already thinking badly of you so if you call it out you can show that you are on the same page and connect with them and build rapport. If you said something that shocked or offended them, right away you need to say, 'I’m so sorry, I can’t believe I said that. I can’t believe that came out of my mouth!'
"Because that is what they are thinking. But if you come from a place of apology and humility, it allows the other person to say, ‘It’s okay,’ and they are more likely to reach out and support you.”
Case study: A woman enters a shop and chooses a dress when the shop assistant says, loudly, “are you pregnant?” The woman looks mortified and anwsers "no I am not pregnant!".
Is there any coming back from that?
“This is a common faux pas," Blundell said.
"It all comes back to the shop assistant owning up to her offensive comment. She needs to say, 'I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. It was just the angle of your dress. You must think I’m an awful person!' This way, the shop assistant is helping the woman realise that she is just human and makes mistakes."
But there will always be the gold medal award winning brand of faux pas that could lead to the end of a friendship. This kind of faux pas is common with family members, where siblings might cease all communication over a simple remark.
“Sometimes people can say the smallest things and people will never forgive them. Think about all the faux pas that happen in families. And lets not forget the dramas over Christmas! In those situations, still apply the three golden rules -- apologise, take ownership and build a bridge as fast as you can.”