Recovering from Mistakes

Apr 17, 2020


I insisted on appearing competent and confident by minimizing the issues-- only to discover the client interpreted my interactions as unapologetic!

It was a perfect storm of technical issues and miscalculated responses. I cringed at the discovery of each new setback: data synchronization errors on my calendar causing confusion, botched software configuration that even Support couldn’t resolve, and an unexpected Disk Is Full message requiring some time-consuming housekeeping. “Oh, this can’t be happening!” I thought. As I hurried to make up for lost time, I pressed Send too quickly rushing an incomplete email to three time zones! To make matters worse, I insisted on appearing competent and confident by minimizing the issues I was having-- only to discover the client interpreted my interactions as unapologetic. I was shocked at the feedback! Again, “Oh, this can’t be happening!”

“Every single time you have a thought, your brain releases chemicals. …Whenever you have a happy, hopeful, loving, kind, or positive thought, your brain releases a completely different set of chemicals. Your hands get warmer and dryer, your breathing becomes deeper and more regular, your muscles relax, your blood pressure decreases, and your brain works better.” - Dr. Daniel Amen

Here’s what I learned about:

  1. Consequences: The consequences of the perfect storm were real, like doubts about my capabilities and wavering trust. However, as an individual, I am not the mistake.
  2. Rehearsal: Creating a well-worn path in my mind about these issues affects my health. Dr. Daniel Amen calls them ANTs (or Automatic Negative Thoughts). ANTs release chemicals in the brain that cause muscle tension, racing heart rate, and shallow breathing. Positive thoughts can improve judgement, memory, and learning!
  3. Patience: It took time to recover from my technical issues and communicate my apology. It will also take longer to impress the client. The pace is not mine, but I will be vigilant.
  4. Grace: My colleagues helped unravel the technical issues and navigate delicate conversations. They granted me forgiveness while getting to the core of each concern.

As I wrote this article, a dear friend called me with a technical question, “because you are such a guru, Michelle!” I was reminded that sometimes we just have technical problems unrelated to our character. Sometimes we have the opportunity to fine-tune our customer service skills which improve our character. Regardless, the words, “I apologize for _____ and I realize that caused _____,” go a looooong way! (Oh, and don’t forget to delete old computer files lurking in the forgotten Trash and Download folders-- lest, you too, get the unexpected Disk is Full message. Maybe our computer disks imitate our minds? If we are going to fill them, fill them with a happy, hopeful, loving, kind, and positive thoughts!)

by Michelle Sugerman • Leading Synergies, LLC • © All Rights Reserved

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