There are a couple of jokes among my friends regarding me and communication. They are thinking it but I’m the one who will say it or I always mean what I say I just don’t mean to say it in my “out loud” voice.
With my friends it can be amusing but in a professional setting – not always appreciated or honestly, so good.
So when I coach my clients on interviewing or networking I can completely relate to either saying the wrong thing or getting completely off subject. I’m a bit of a wandering speaker myself at times.
So what do you do when you find yourself in the position when you ask yourself silently, “Did I really just say that??”
First of all before you even go into the situation realize that there is a really good chance you will say something wrong. Give yourself permission to commit an error. It happens, it is salvageable and it isn’t the worse thing in the world to happen.
Once you recognize and realize this you will be more at ease during your “performance” and thus less likely to make a huge error. Lighten up on yourself first and foremost.
When that moment does come I suggest doing the following:
Take a moment to stop the train before it goes completely off the tracks and hurts someone. Take a breath. Analyze the situation – including your audience’s body language. Regroup.
Be a light as possible without being flip.
Being able to redirect the conversation in a positive and gentle humor manner will make the other party less uncomfortable. Remember, people do not always remember what you say but they remember how you make them feel.
If you start stammering all over yourself you will make them feel uncomfortable, which will remind them of the entire incident.
However, if you find yourself veering completely off topic saying something like, “I’m sorry, I do not know how I got here but let me get back to your original point.” with a smile and lighthearted tone will put them more at ease.
Then get to your point immediately and complete your thought in a clear and concise manner.
Let the incident go. If you have made them a bit more at ease and continued with the conversation or interview and absolutely nailed the rest of it then relax. They may not even remember it again so please do yourself a favor and do not remind them.
Too often I have clients who want to “make up” for something they said in the interview. If the odds are the interviewer forgot about it why on earth would you want to bring it back up?
One small mishap will not completely ruin an entire interview or networking opportunity. How you handle that mishap will, however, make all the difference.
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.