Bumps, Bruises, and Blunders: Dealing with Embarrassing Moments at Work and on the Job Hunt

by Amelia Zavala Vander Heide ,Senior Editor, INALJ Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virtual Work

Bumps, Bruises, and Blunders: Dealing with Embarrassing Moments at Work and on the Job Hunt

amelia_vanderheideWe have all been there. You say or do the wrong thing in the wrong moment. You accidentally slip, fall, or let that swear word sneak out. That awkward moment at work. The moment that you think about for hours, days, and weeks to come. Here are some of the embarrassing things I have done:

• Hit reply all on an e-mail

• Too many proofreading mistakes to count

• Forgotten to attach a resume or important document to an e-mail

• Misspoke with the wrong information

• Face planted in front of a group of co-workers/children

• Had someone’s name (usually an important someone) completely wrong

• Misspelled anything and everything

• Did not show up to the first day of an internship because the time was sent via Google, and Google automatically changed the time from EST to PST, even though the sender had written the time in EST (That was a fun phone call, I assure you)

• This week, in fact, my blouse came down in the middle of family story time

The last one on this list is what prompted me to write about this topic. Some of the things on this list are due to the fact I can be clumsy and unobservant, but some are mistakes that are made even when due diligence is observed. I am here to tell you even when you make mistakes such as these, you can still have a rewarding career and keep your dignity. Here are some tricks and tips I have learned over the years:

Double Check. In my experience, a majority of work-time blunders are mistakes that could easily be avoided with some extra proofreading or better communication. If you have a trusted friend or partner, have them read and re-read your resume and cover letter. Not only can they offer insight to make your presentation tighter, but they can also check spelling and word omission.

Proofreading is important, but also ensure to double check things like meeting times and your outfit for wardrobe malfunctions. If you do not know the answer to a question, ask. Never be embarrassed to ask for help or admit you do not know something important. The phrase, “fake it ‘til you make it,” only takes you so far.

Apologize. If you make a mistake and you know you are at fault, whether it is having a meeting time wrong or letting yourself get worked up about something minor, it is important to apologize and take ownership. Not all mistakes warrant an apology, but some do, and if you think it does, then apologizing might make you feel better. For example, you probably do not have to apologize if you fall in heels, but you should probably apologize if you find out Matt’s name is really Mike.

Let It Go. It might have helped that I just re-watched Frozen yesterday, but sometimes you need to let it go. Everyone makes mistakes, and most are probably at work because you are there so frequently.

It is important to learn from past mistakes and embarrassments and move on. I have learned rather recently that I should not wear a certain shirt, even if it is 100 degrees outside. I have learned to never dwell on a past misstep. Remember, we’re all human, and even if you misspelled something on your resume, you still might get a call back.

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