Did You Say Something to the Client that You Regret?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Do you have a short fuse? Many of us do. If you’re not able to control your highly emotional reactions to situations you don’t like, you’re going to have trouble at work. Blowing up at prospects, clients or co-​workers will damage your career unless you actively manage adversarial situations as Michael Mamas describes.

None of us is a saint, so it’s understandable that at some point, you’re going to say something you regret in your professional life. Maybe you lost a key client to a competitor and told her she was a loser for signing up with a loser company. That kind of negative outburst will stay with you and the lost client for a long time, unless you take some positive action.

The best way to repair the damage is to have a face-​to-​face conversation with the person involved and apologize. As Mamas suggests, wait until you’ve calmed down before you reach out. Your apology must come across as sincere. You don’t want to look like you're struggling with your emotions when you apologize.

The work environment is often the place where team members allow their life problems to color their attitudes and behaviors. These co-​workers will push your buttons when they make thoughtless comments or aggressively challenge the fact that you were handed a great account to service. If you’ve blown up at a co-​worker, the negative situation could boil out of control unless you take fast action.

Take some time to settle down and think about how you want to handle the situation. If possible, invite the person out to coffee or try another tactic to get him alone for a few minutes so you can properly apologize and promise to build an improved work relationship. He may not be ready to listen to you or accept your apology. Be sure to tell him you respect his decision and say you’ll reach out again in the future. Make sure to follow up on that promise.

Mamas also describes another type of adversarial situation you’ll encounter in the workplace. Co-​workers can come across as outwardly friendly to you, but they might be talking trash behind your back. These folks might try to steal an account  or make you look bad in front of the boss. It’s never easy to address these situations, but you should try to resolve the problem on your own. Talk with the person involved in a non-​confrontational way and ask if you’ve done something to upset him. Often, a direct conversation like this is enough to get a passive-​aggressive person to back off.

Most of us don’t enjoy working in highly emotional work environments.  If you’ve said something you shouldn’t have, take the high road and the first step toward improving the work environment. Say you’re sorry.