It happened. You had that important presentation to the big boss, and it went down in flames. You were worried about it, and your worst fears came true.
Okay, now that you’re a little further away from the event, how do you recover from this disappointment?
First, realize that you were probably affected far more than anyone else. Our own embarrassment and humiliation magnifies everything. I’m convinced that these are deep survival mechanisms of the human species, which help prevent us from repeating actions which are socially damaging.
Second, figure out what you’ve learned from this situation. What will you do differently next time? Plan things differently? Practice more? Get inputs from other people?
Third, do some damage control about the lasting perceptions. People make mistakes, and a lot of attention is paid to how they recover afterward. Stay away from accusation and escalation. Instead, focus on how to mend things. In this particular example, you might start conversations with these lines:
- “I’m concerned that I didn’t do the best job of explaining the situation, I’m hoping to address that now….”
- “Can you help me understand what I might have done better?”
- “May I get your feedback and advice? I want to do a better job next time.”
Fourth, shift your attention to the future. The past can’t be changed, and you’ve done the best you can to change peoples’ perceptions of the past. So now it’s time to move on. What is it you’ll do next time which will totally change their opinions about you? Who can you learn from?
It’s tough to deal with the pain of embarrassment; this is a very human trait. Acknowledge the emotions, work with them, but then move on.
by Carl Dierschow