What to Do When Things Go Wrong

No one is perfect. Things happen. And when they do, we often get upset and beat ourselves up. We might react with defensiveness or keep apologizing again and again, which usually makes things worse. It’s important to respond in a calm and confident way, while demonstrating that you care about what happened.

The other person who has been disappointed will have two needs at that time:

  • To be heard and understood
  • Resolution of some kind

Here is a simple process that can support and guide you when things go wrong:

  • Stay calm
  • Let the other person say what they feel without interruption or defensiveness
  • Apologize once in a clear, thoughtful and heartfelt way
  • Offer a solution, compromise, or alternative
  • If applicable, thank them for understanding
  • Acknowledge yourself for your effort to handle the issue well
  • Be gentle with yourself and let go of any judgements that come forward for something going wrong.

You may want to keep this on hand as a resource because when things go wrong you usually aren’t able to think clearly at first. Having a guideline can help you stay calm and find your way to a peaceful resolution.

And remember, you can’t be human in a human world without an occasional OOPS.

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