Workplace Communication – When Good Intentions Go Bad How to Correct a Blunder

Workplace misunderstandings are costly, stressful and potentially damaging to your career–especially if you created the communication snafu. Knowing how to handle communication blunders while keeping your composure can save a job, a reputation or a business relationship.

Sometimes even good intentions go bad. Early in my career I created a bad situation just because I was trying to do the right thing—serve a customer. If you’ve ever worked in commission sales perhaps you can relate.

While we were expected to help all customers, it apparently was not correct to be too helpful. (Yes, you’re reading a bit of disbelief on my part in that sentence. More years of experience tells me otherwise…but that’s another post.)

At the time, my helpfulness caused the customer to want to switch horses in mid-stream and work with me. That, of course, was not going to sit well with my colleague (whom I highly respected) and with whom I was going to have to work with long after the customer’s project was completed. I was also the new kid on the block–so it wasn’t just one co-worker who might look askance at my blunder. Talk about a potential hostile work environment!

I opted to correct the situation immediately.  And, I’m glad I did.

Here’s what you can do if you find yourself in a similar situation:

1. Apologies are always appropriate. Be mindful of your timing, framing and mode of deliver. Don’t allow emotions to be the message. Use your words to correct misunderstanding and seek confirmation that your apology was heard as you intended.

2. Speaking of delivery….do it in person. This is no  time to rely on email, phone or other electronic communication.

3. I f you realize your blunder the moment the words leave your mouth, make amends immediately. Take the onus and do the right thing without added dramatics. A heartfelt, “I apologize. That comment was uncalled for,” will go a long way in mending a regrettable comment.

Be mindful of your intentions when communicating but when even good intentions go bad  be the bigger person.

What’s your thoughts?

This post is an excerpt from Allie’s book Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. If you want Allie to speak to your group or organization on communicating  for results contact her at 407.313.4967 or visit her speaker website at AllieCaseySpeaks.com.

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