Screwed Up?!?! Own It.

You know those people where nothing is their fault? Every time they let the team down, it was something someone else did to cause the issue. It was the weather. The bus was late. Their spouse lost the keys. Whatever it is – they had nothing to do with it.

Don’t be that person.

Just today, a Saturday, I was to have a phone meeting with the CEO of a company. I thought to myself “Hey, it’s Saturday and I could use some exercise. Who cares if it’s 95 degrees outside? I’ll be back with time to spare.” Well, I wasn’t. My fatness had to battle the heat, the fatigue, and then a mechanical failure… worse, I was out of range for a mobile phone signal.

There should have been plenty of time, but I blew it. It wasn’t the bike’s fault. It wasn’t the weather – although I would like to blame it. It was me. I need to own it. Here is what I did.

As soon as I got to a signal I called and asked to get them on the phone. The receptionist said they were in a meeting and could they take a message. I asked… “can you get me to a voicemail?”. I believe that when you need to be “Hat in hand”, it needs to be direct. I got on that voicemail and got straight to the point.

“Mr. XXXXX, I wanted to call you as soon as I could get a signal to beg your forgiveness. I know time is valuable and I blew it. I had a mechanical failure out of mobile phone range, and I should have planned better. I hope we can reconnect.” I followed that up with an email almost verbatim.

Think about how you would react to that. Can you really be angry with someone or spiteful when they take full blame of a situation? How do you think my appointment reacted?

I got an immediate response when his meeting was over. He stated…

“It’s been a busy day for me since I just got back from vacation yesterday. I just couldn’t take your call since I was in the middle of some accounting. I’m available after 3 on Tuesday if you’re available. “

That is what pros do. Did you pick up on that? He mirrored my messaging and took some of the heat off of myself by saying he had a busy day anyway. From a communications perspective, this is perfect. I now know that I am doing business with a more compassionate person that has a decent level of emotional intelligence.

If his response would have been something more like “It’s inexcusable to waste my time.” or “Don’t you know who I am?” then that would be a sign that this isn’t my power partner for the future anyway.

I’m not saying to screw things up on purpose to test the integrity of your future clients, but I am saying if you Screw It Up – Own it. take the responsibility for the mix-up and be open to the response. Not always, but sometimes this is the beginning of a great relationship. Remember to see it from their perspective too. You exhibit integrity when you apologize for screwing up.

People appreciate transparency, humility, and respect. Own it.

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