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Recovering from Verbal Blunders at Work

Verbal Blunders at Work

I can’t believe I said that!

We have all said something that came across wrong or blurted out something without thinking. Each of us has been in the uncomfortable “insert foot in mouth” situation. So, how do you handle a communication slip up at the office? Can you save face? Can you get fired for saying something silly and off-the-cuff?

As a leading Florida employment agency, we will answer these questions as we go over some ways to recover from verbal blunders at work.

First, here is an example from one of our colleagues who had a recent verbal gaffe at her eye doctor’s appointment:
She was looking at frames for her new lenses and when the technician suggested a particular pair, she exclaimed “Oh gosh no! Those are old lady glasses!” She then turned and realized the tech was wearing the exact same frames. Fortunately she was not offended and they shared a good laugh.

Pause For a Moment

Sometimes you dig yourself deeper by trying to explain yourself or why you said something. Less is more here, especially in a work environment.

Take Responsibility

Own up to your mistake. Everyone makes them. Remember we are all human and no one is perfect. A sincere apology and admitting your faux pas goes a long way.

Forgive Yourself

Try not to dwell on it or beat yourself up. You can’t take it back. Life goes on.

Can you lose your job over a verbal blunder?

In most cases, it is highly unlikely that you would be fired for misspeaking at work. However, this may not be the case in more extreme situations. If your remark has to do with age, race, disability, gender, or is derogatory in nature it could be considered harassment. Additionally, if the comment results in retaliation it could be grounds for firing.

If a lack of filter is something you struggle with frequently, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • When you’re nervous, you get flustered and say the wrong thing
  • We simply forget to think before we speak
  • When we speak without thinking we hurt people, even if we are not being purposely offensive
  • We say the wrong things because we don’t have all the information

Is there any lesson that can be learned? Sometimes it’s best to listen, think, and then speak if necessary.


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