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How to Recover From a Social Faux Pas

We all know we shouldn't be talking about other people behind their backs. However, sometimes our innermost thoughts find their way out into the public forum. Whether you hit "reply all" or spoke into a voicemail message you didn't know was recording, there are ways to lessen the damage you may have caused.

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We all know we shouldn't be talking about other people behind their backs. However, sometimes our innermost thoughts find their way out into the public forum. Whether you hit "reply all" or spoke into a voicemail message you didn't know was recording, there are ways to lessen the damage you may have caused. In her blog post "How to Recover from a Personal WikiLeaks" in the Harvard Business Review, Jodi Glickman offers several tips to follow when you find yourself the victim of a lapse in judgment.

1. Fess up and apologize. If you are caught gossiping about someone, or revealing a secret a co-worker told you in confidence, you don't have much to do besides admit it and apologize. The worst thing you can do is deny the slip up or try to justify your actions. Take responsibility for yourself and offer a sincere apology, emphasizing the fact that it wasn't your intention to hurt anyone.

2. Confront the issue. Don't attempt  to brush off the main issue at hand. Perhaps a co-worker's erratic behavior has been bothering you for weeks, or you were ticked off that a colleague didn't acknowledge your contributions in a report. Whatever the underlying issue is, harness the courage to face it. Clearly state what has been bothering you and offer suggestions on how to make things better.

3. Commit to handling similar situations differently in the future. Once you've apologized and confronted the issue, you should make an attempt at winning back your friend or colleague's trust. Promise to change your ways and handle things better in the future.