They say that to err is human and forgiveness is divine. However, sometimes it can feel impossible to forgive our all-too-human selves for things that go wrong.
Like that time you invited a mate to a birthday dinner and somehow left the house without your wallet. Or when you complained about a colleague’s gloomy expression and general listlessness – and then found out that her mother had died.
Who can forget the big party you had last month when you realized in the middle of the night you forgot to invite a close friend over? To invite her right now would mean that you would admit that you forgot her, so you did nothing; Unfortunately, some guests were live streaming the event and your friend was quite hurt.
Some of these goofy stunts happen when nobody’s looking, so you don’t have to step back or try to explain yourself. Others are just embarrassed in the moment; no matter how embarrassed you feel, chances are everyone will forget it.
However, some embarrassing mistakes can also have serious personal or professional repercussions. But let’s start with the small glitches. Here are some mistakes everyone makes.
1. Regift gone wrong
In 2005, I was a broke college student struggling through a lengthy midlife divorce, but I still wanted to give Christmas presents. One of my part-time jobs was writing for the college newspaper whose editor gave me a book on the history of cinema.
Perfect gift for my movie crazy best friend! Unfortunately I forgot to check the inside front page where the editor had written a nice note to me. quit
Before you give anything away, be Absolutely Make sure there are no inscriptions, gift tags, or other things that brought it to you first. Best example I’ve ever heard: A woman who gave a cookbook as a wedding gift with a $100 bill inside – and got it back at Christmas with the $100 still there. Many happy returns, indeed!
2. Wardrobe malfunctions
After a lunch break at the gym, you come back to work with your shirt inside out. Or you spend at least half of a party with your pants undone. Or you come back from the ladies’ room with your skirt rolled up.
Maybe a nice person will let you know. Or maybe your friends think it is hilarious that you’re walking around with your zip unzipped, and spreading the word so as not to tell you by the end of the evening.
When getting dressed or re-dressed, take a few extra seconds to make sure you are completely presentable from both the front and back. Also, don’t forget to check for spinach in your teeth.
3. Leave things in the car
You carry a bag/briefcase, a smartphone and a cup of coffee back to your vehicle. So put the coffee on the car to unlock it. Then you drive away and forget about the drink until it bounces off the windshield — or until you’re like, “Wait, didn’t I just get coffee?”
One solution: put the coffee on the hood so you can see it when you get in the driver’s seat. Another would be to avoid carrying so many things at once.
This mistake could be expensive: My former boss once hired her wallet on the car and drove off. Luckily, a very honest person found the wallet and returned it. You may not be so lucky.
4. Accidental shoplifting
Have you ever walked through a store with an item in your hand/arm and forgotten it was there? And then left without paying for it? And then run back in with a red face and queue at the cash register?
Avoid those unintentional five-finger discounts by always getting a basket or cart. They are good reminders that you at least wanted it one Thing.
I also committed a form of reverse shoplifting: I bagged my items while chatting with the cashier and then left without the items I just bought. Real smooth.
5. Erroneous Corrections
Someone mispronounces a word, uses incorrect grammar, or makes a statement that you know is wrong. You can’t stop yourself from correcting them.
Then it turns out that they were right and she were wrong. Bonus bullshit points for going ahead with your erroneous correction: “Well, actually…”
Be sure you are right before you tell anyone else they are wrong. Or consider not saying anything at all, especially if it might embarrass that person in front of others.
Not all mistakes are easily laughed at
Not every error affects only you; sometimes the feelings of others play a role. Or maybe it’s a matter of your personal or professional reputation going down the drain because of something you did or said.
So it’s a good idea to develop a personal filter and also get in the habit of thinking things through before speaking or acting. Here are a few examples.
6. Criticism within earshot
you just would have badmouth the boss, right at the Christmas party or at the end of the day in the inn? Blaming the hooch only makes matters worse: self-identification as an indiscreet drunk could torpedo future promotions.
Or maybe you’re having a few beers together at a house party when you catch a glimpse of someone you don’t like. For some reason you’re talking why You don’t like them and realize too late that they are close enough to hear you.
Here’s a rule favored by elementary school teachers: “Is that true? Is it nice? It is necessary? Is it helpful? If not, maybe it should be left unsaid.” And maybe you shouldn’t drink so much, either.
7. Accidental humble boasting
They’ve closed a new home and set a wedding date. Or maybe your kid won a full scholarship to a great college. Or you can retire early thanks to Great-Aunt Hermione’s legacy. And you can’t wait to tell it Everyone.
Some people are really happy for you. However, sometimes you find that the person you’re speaking to doesn’t qualify for a mortgage and/or just split from their significant other, is struggling to pay for their child’s community college, and may actually have to work up until now on the day they die.
As you share parts of your life, think of the audience — and then consider taking it back a little. Not every message needs to be broadcast.
8. Forgot an important occasion
Here’s an easy way to land in the kennel: Forget wishing your dad a happy birthday or your mom a happy mother’s day. Or if you’re happy together, by all means forget about your own anniversary – that moving always creates drama.
yes we are all busy But calendars are there for a reason. Whether on paper or electronically, it’s easy to write down important occasions. Even write it down a few weeks in advance so you have time to find just the right card or plan a special way to celebrate.
It doesn’t have to cost a lot to recognize occasions that are special to the people you love. To paraphrase a greeting card ad, they may never forget this she forget.
9. Remote work glitches
You wear a suit and tie or an elegant blouse to the zoom meeting – but no pants. Nobody can see it, can they? Maybe not. Or maybe yes.
Or your beloved pet wanders into the room and you forget to hit mute before you start talking to your fluffy ass, the best boy in the world.
Here’s a simple tip for remote meetings: always assume you can be seen and heard.
10. Message the wrong person
A woman I know spent several years in a pretty nerve-wracking job. (Think: “Classifieds taker but actually wanted to be a reporter.”) One day, she used internal messaging to rant about the lousy job, her even lousy pay, and the fact that there was no opportunity for advancement.
She accidentally sent this message not to her sympathetic colleague, but to the entire office – including her manager. Oops.
Never send a text, email, or any other type of message without verifying and verifying the recipient. You cannot pick up that particular bell.