What do you normally do when you – or someone on your team – makes a mistake?
Do you …
* Run to the bathroom, cry about it, and wreck your Tarte mascara?
* Call your shrink and book an emergency session?
* Head for the bar? Top-shelf vodka only please.
* Blame your dog because surely it’s his fault?
* Call your boyfriend and pick a fight? You’re still fuming that he left the toilet seat up 3 weeks ago, and boy oh boy, did he pick the wrong day to get out of bed.
* Text your assistant and threaten to go Mommy Dearest on her if it ever happens again – and then, to make sure she understands just how mad you are, ask her to stock up on wire hangers.
* See it as an opportunity to humanize and humble yourself?
* Learn from the mistake and make an immediate policy change?
* Pop the Champagne and treat yourself to a massage? You’ve let go of being perfect and it’s time to celebrate your imperfection.
If you picked anything from Category A or Category B, then read on. If you’re a Category C, I’ll see you at the spa!
Last week an email with a broken link got sent out to my list.
(If you’re on my list then you know what I’m talking about).
Minutes later a flurry of emails came in – I was thinking YEAH everyone loves my post about How to Find Your Writing Voice in 3 Words or Less.
But I was wrong. They couldn’t possibly know if the post was a hit – or a miss – because the link was broken.
But instead of having a Category A or Category B melt down, I quickly drafted a simple email and sent it out.
This is what it said.
“Good thing you already know I’m not perfect (but I’m perfect for you :)).
And if you’ve already made at least one boo boo today, give yourself a high-five.
Short, honest, and to the point.
And you know what was amazing?
The emails I got about my ‘broken link email’ made me soooo happy that I’d made a boo boo.
Here are just a few of the emails I received:
“OK….that is the best “broken link” email I’ve ever read! I absolutely adore you.
“Favorite email EVER!!! YOU are perfect xoxo
“Ha – I figured you just would sit there talking about being brilliantly perfect. Maybe not though – just brilliant at the recovery!
Mistakes happen – no need to pretend that they don’t.
This was all about making sure that YOU got what I promised you.
And because I always deliver what I promise, when it doesn’t happen as smoothly as I like, I don’t duck and cover – I just roll with the crazy the best I can.
I first learned how to make an elegant recovery back in my stripper days, while working with a petite – and flexible – dancer named Miriam.
Now, Miriam had massive dreadlocks, and while a few men might have appreciated the hairdo, she knew most customers wouldn’t get it. So every night she wrapped them up in a medicinal-looking nylon cap, and topped it off with a large red wig.
Instant transformation from Rasta chick to Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid – perfect fodder for a Disney fan’s fantasy. Believe me, she got a LOT of attention.
One evening, Little Miss Mermaid was onstage, swaying to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” and all eyes were on her as she effortlessly lunged into splits and bends that would cripple most dancers.
As I watched her seductively slink and slither, I was equal parts proud and painfully jealous. My envy ended abruptly when, during one of her heel-to-head back bends, her stiletto caught her wig and ripped it right off as she uncoiled.
I braced myself for a horrible, awkward disaster, but Miriam grabbed the moment by the horns and, without a trace of visible concern, grabbed her wig, untangled it from her shoe and twirled it around like an accessory.
Then she elegantly approached the mirror, reapplied her giant red hair over her medicinal-looking nude wig cap, slyly looked to make sure everything was straight, put a big sexy smile on her face and continued with her routine. It was so smooth it could have been part of her act.
There’s no better opportunity to connect with your audience (and your customers) than the way you recover from a clumsy stumble, a business boo-boo, or a wardrobe malfunction.
You can turn embarrassing situations to your advantage by rolling with the craziness.
People – friends, acquaintances, business contacts, strangers – love it when you let your humanity show.
So, the next time you find yourself with your hair extensions falling out or a stiletto-clad foot in your mouth, recognize the opportunity to recover. Elegantly.
People may just fall in love with you all over again.