I recently gave a workshop to a tech company on interviewing that covered the laws, gave examples of what you can and cannot ask during an interview and some best practice interview guidelines.

The meat of the workshop was solid. Informative and thought-provoking. Good interaction between myself and the attendees occurred.

The problem was in my choice of how to introduce the workshop. I debated with myself and my team about the use of a video from the show The Office where Dwight has invited family and other acquaintances to interview for an open position at Dunder Mifflin.

It is The Office. It is a very funny show in a sarcastic and sometimes uncomfortable way.  And the video landed like a lead balloon.

The Journey of The Lead Balloon

This was a mistake that could have been avoided. Here is how it broke down:

First, the link I embedded was the wrong link. It was missing the first 30 seconds or so of when Dwight was actually interviewing his relative. This was a workshop on interviewing so not having this was a real miss.

Second, the video was 3 minutes long. 3 minutes may not seem like much but imagine watching something super awkward in a professional setting. It felt like 3 hours.

Third, and the most important factor to the mistake, I did not trust my instincts. I had hesitated about using the video. I wanted something funny to kick off the workshop because law and EEOC say fun like…not at all. I had trouble finding a funny video that was not from the interviewee perspective.  After deliberation I decided to go with The Office video.

And did I mention I embedded the wrong link!

After the workshop where, even though I was complimented, the video was never mentioned and it was suggested the recording be a part of all future employee on-boarding, I spent the next 48 hours hyper-focused on the video. I woke up in the middle of the night sighing and spent time in self-beat up. Not fun or funny by the way.

How Do You Recover After A Blunder At Work?

There probably has or will be a time when a presentation to stakeholders, executives, customers or a possible new employer takes a bad turn. How quickly you acknowledge and forgive yourself is key to learning, course correcting, better sleep and not diving down the rabbit-hole of chocolate cake and red wine.

Steps to take to let go of a mistake

First-Create a Forgiveness Mantra. I suggest “All my intentions are good ones.” Because isn’t that mostly always true. I was not trying to make others uncomfortable. My intention was to make them laugh. And another thing, forgiving can be broken down into FOR GIVING. That is why I was there; for giving information, for giving back my expertise, for giving a learning moment.

Second-Set a Timer. If beat up is going to happen then let it happen. Ignoring an elephant in the room never works well. By dissecting your mistake, even in the form of a bit of self-blame, you are creating the opportunity to learning from your mistake. The key is that you do not let this go on for hours and YOU DO NOT LET IT DISRUPT YOUR SLEEP. Set a timer for no more than 10 minutes and have at it. Say what you are thinking about yourself and what happened. Even better, I find taking notes helps too. It gets the negative thoughts out of my head and body and onto paper. When the timer goes off…STOP. You are complete.

Third- Recite Your Mantra. After your timer exercise it is time to invoke your mantra. It is time to remind yourself of your good intentions. This will bring peace to the situation and to yourself. Say your mantra, scream your mantra, tell others of your mantra. Make a list of all your charms and best qualities. Get to a place where your mantra is as real or more real to you than what you said to yourself during timer time. There is no timer on this one.

Fourth- Become a Student.  Now that you are in a more peaceful place about what happened you can begin to learn (know what you could do different) and grow (do things differently).

Ask and answer this question – what could I have done differently? For me, my instincts were telling me the video was not right. I have come to know that if things are not coming together fairly smoothly that I am on the wrong path. There is a better solution out there. If I had listened, I may have ditched the video and used something like this instead:

Fifth-Take Responsibility.  What I know for sure is that you never really grow (change behaviors) if you don’t take responsibility for your part in the mistake.  So, if appropriate, you should acknowledge to those impacted that you recognize you made an unwise decision, you have learned how you could have done things differently and you want to correct the error in any way you can to make amends.

Sixth-Acknowledge the Alchemy.  If you have completed the first 5 steps then my hope is that you have seen the change your mistake has taken. It has morphed into a blessing. This does not mean you would not like to go back in time and do things differently but in fact you have been positively changed from the experience if you have allowed yourself to learn and grow from it.

Seventh-Time For Giving. Say yes to putting yourself out there again. What do you have to give? Who can you give to? Have some fun. Laugh…maybe even at the mistake. Just give again.