Remember the last time you made a mistake? How did you handle it?
I while back while still in the states, I entered the parking lot of a strip mall and found myself stuck behind an SUV that was moving at a snails crawl pace.
Sensing she was lost and about to pull over, I went around her on the left and came upon a mother with her two children crossing from the sidewalk to their car in the parking lot.
This crosswalk required vehicles to come to a stop which I did. Albeit awkwardly on an angle, encroaching the striped line.
The mother lobbed an expletive in my direction and I embarrassingly pulled into a parking spot close to my intended destination.
As I exited my vehicle and the mother was loading her minivan, we exchanged a few calm civil remarks. She wasn’t happy and I was motivated to dig in and stand my ground.
Enter the SUV driver who I swerved around. She starts laying into me that I was wrong to go around her. I stated my case saying I thought the mom was overreacting and should apologize for using such vulgar language.
“You should be apologizing to her” she said in a stern yet calm voice.
“Maam, I apologize to both of you and admit I was wrong. I could have done better” I said.
At this moment she stared at me for a beat, went silent, then walked into the store.
Believe me, this was an emotionally charged triangle with me, Mom, and SUV driver. If I was stubborn and stayed on the offensive to justify my actions, what good would it have done? Nothing, that’s what.
My emotional intelligence allowed me to hit the pause button. Focus on what I was feeling. Focus on what the other people were feeling. And maybe the most important, I was motivated to bring this boiling point pressure cooker situation back down to room temperature. And do it quickly.
When you make a faux pas, don’t lock horns!
- Admit your mistake as soon as possible.
- Apologize for your error in judgement.
- Learn from the experience.
- Move on.
- Do better next time.
Easier said than done, I’m sure. However, in the end, everyone will be happier.