What to Do When You Embarrass Yourself at Work

by | Feb 20, 2023 | Podcast

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In this week’s episode of Reflect Forward: Advice From a CEO, I discuss what to do when you embarrass yourself at work. We’ve all experienced embarrassment at work, and I share two very visceral experiences during the episode. In both instances, I was so upset with myself and mortified beyond belief.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have embarrassed yourself at work, there are a few things you can do to try and mitigate the situation:

  • Breathe and practice self-compassion
  • Take responsibility and apologize
  • Learn from the experience
  • Let go and move on

Pro tip: Communicate with your supervisor or HR if the situation is problematic to the organization. Don’t allow your manager to be blindsided by learning about the situation from someone else.

I also discuss what to do as a leader when an employee is upset and embarrassed over a mistake such as showing empathy and compassion. It’s never easy to talk about screw-ups, and you must create an environment where it is safe to talk about mistakes and find a path forward. Do not blame or shame. If the employee’s embarrassment was due to a mistake or performance issue, provide constructive feedback and coaching to help them improve. And finally, show appreciation and recognition for the person’s hard work, effort, and the strengths they bring to the table to help them see that the mistake doesn’t define them.

Remember, your embarrassing mistakes don’t define you but can shape your identity if you embrace the lessons learned. We all embrass ourselves from time to time, it’s part of being human. Lead yourself through it and come out the other side stronger and more resilient.

Question of the Week

“What do you do when one of your colleagues isn’t doing their job?”

Working with someone who doesn’t pull their weight can be incredibly frustrating. I’ve experienced this and eventually left the organization because the person never stepped up. I recognize this isn’t an option for everyone so I share the process you should use to address it and some tips to stay positive and not enable the behavior.


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