Liz Reyer: If You Think You Have Fumbled An Office Chat, You Probably Did

By Liz Reyer
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Business coach Liz Reyer shares her thoughts on what to do when you stick your foot in your mouth at the office.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Q: Help! I just got out of a conversation in which I know I came off as both pretentious and arrogant. That’s not who I am; how do I make up for this gaffe?
-Lynette, 50, program manager

A: As a matter of fact, that’s exactly who you are, at least a little bit! Own it, understand what is underneath it, and then you can move forward.

You have probably got some embarrassment and shame going on, so start by letting go of that. Be kind to yourself, just as you would a friend who slips up now and then. There are multiple benefits to this. First, if you are typically pretty harsh on people, you will get practice on showing forbearance. Also, if you are busy beating yourself up, you will distract yourself from getting your work done. Finally, and very importantly, you will not be able to truly think through root causes and change your behavior if you are in an emotional cloud.

I have noticed that, often, our less-favorable behavior tends to emerge when we are stressed. In your situation, I’m wondering what types of stress behavior you usually exhibit. My hunch is that a more abrasive and haughty side may tend to show up. If that is the case, consider why this conversation would have triggered it.

And then go further to think about other situations where you may be at risk of behaving this way. You may have just noticed this, but others may have been experiencing it all along in other situations. Consider talking to people you trust to see if there is a pattern here. If so, be open to hearing feedback that may not be comfortable, and be appreciative that this potentially destructive behavior has come to your attention.

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