We've all done or said something that offended or hurt another person. It's inevitable that our actions have impact that can run counter to our intention. No matter how careful we are, how our actions and words land with other people is, ultimately, what matters most.
Daisy Auger-Domiguez, chief people officer for Vice Media, has a helpful article in HBR, "When Your Efforts to Be Inclusive Misfire. In the piece, she recalls a recent miscue, explains how she dealt with it and outlined 5 ways to handle it when it happens to you (because it will):
- Own it. "Don’t try to immediately fix it or explain it away," she cautions. Instead, listen, take responsibility and commit to improving (maybe even explain how you'll do that). For example, I frequently point people to Janel Monae's terrific Twitter apology a few years back.
- Create space. "Ask questions about your choices, and use this as an opportunity to better understand another culture or point of view," Auger-Dominguez counsels. This is how we support grace, acceptance and respect.
- Communicate confidently. When you confidently discuss your own mistakes -- and the broader issues of privilege, race and bias -- you model effective and authentic communication about difficult topics and "make sure people know it’s safe and beneficial to share who they truly are and what they’re grappling with," she explains. Get more tips for difficult conversations.
- Get an assist. "If you’re uncertain about saying or doing the 'right' thing, vet your emails or actions with a broad range of voices," Auger-Dominguez recommends. That said, make sure you're not asking other people to do the work for you.
- Keep going. "Don’t let your fears of making a mistake hold you back," she concludes. Fear of messing up keeps us from taking action. We only learn -- and things only improve -- when we act.