The Mistake People Make After They Say the Wrong Thing

May 27, 2018

Do this the next time you say something that offends someone else.

Have you ever said something that somebody else said they found offensive? What did you do in response?

Many of us do one of two things, or a combination of both:

  • Get defensive, question how offensive it really was, and think the person is just being sensitive.
  • Shut down.

Neither is great. Instead, look at it this way – saying the wrong thing is actually a learning opportunity, as I explain in a clip from my course on LinkedIn Learning.

Instructor Verna Myers explains what to do after you say the wrong thing in a clip from her LinkedIn Learning course.

What to do when you say the wrong thing

If you say something that someone else finds offensive, first off, apologize. You might not have intended for your comment to be offensive, but that’s the impact it had, and you need to own that.

Then, seek to understand by getting closer, instead of backing away. Ask the person why they found the statement or action offensive. Put yourself in their shoes, so you can learn from it.

After all, it’s unlikely you said something intentionally to offend someone. Use it as an opportunity to grow and begin to overcome your unconscious bias.

So, yes, saying the wrong thing is never great. But use it as a positive and improve from it.

Want to learn more? Watch my full course on LinkedIn Learning, Confront Bias: Thriving Across Our Differences.

Other LinkedIn Learning courses you might be interested in are: