Making Your Words and Actions Count After Workplace Gaffes

How to rebuild your reputation and trust with coworkers

For example, if you’ve made off-color comments to a coworker about their culture, ethnicity, or lifestyle, don’t just apologize, actively seek to take a class on diversity. Follow through on whatever you said you would do or changes you said you would make so that your actions will show that your apology was sincere. Try talking to your human resources department or consult with a career counselor to get an objective opinion about your progress.

Simply because you apologize and begin to demonstrate more positive changes won’t mean that other employees will forget and forgive. “People are like big cruise ships. You can’t turn a cruise ship in a couple of seconds. It takes a little while,” Morgan says. “The employee has to allow the affected employees their own time to assess the new situation.”

Forgive yourself. Finally, don’t continue to beat yourself up. People make mistakes. “Give yourself permission to fail just as you give yourself permission to be successful,” says Morgan. “Learn from what you’ve done wrong, but realize how you react to it is what will make the difference.”

RESOURCES

Avoiding Office E-mail Gaffes

Embarrassments in the Workplace

The Society of Human Resource Management

Fashion Faux Pas at Work

Leveraging Diversity at Work

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