Foot, meet mouth. The conversation was going so well. Maybe you were chatting with a crush or even networking with a new professional acquaintance who could seriously help your career. Then, all of a sudden, you blurt out something that’s so stupid/rude/awkward/offensive/etc. that you literally want a hole to open up in the ground and swallow you up. For days or even weeks after the fact, you can’t stop thinking about it and it’s driving you crazy. If you’re obsessing over saying the wrong thing, stop. You can’t turn back the clock, so you’ll have to learn to make like Elsa and let it go.
- Accept the awkwardness. There’s no use pretending that things aren’t a bit messed up right now. This is especially true if you’ve said something offensive or derogatory in some way, even if unintentional. In order to move on from it, you have to accept that it happened in the first place. You said the wrong thing and as a result, things are awkward AF. It happens. Thankfully, it’s (probably) not irreparable.
- Put it in context. Sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture for some perspective. Is what you said really that bad? Was it appropriate for the conversation, even if it was a bit harsh or out of left field? It could be that you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. This is especially true since what seems significant to us might not be a big deal for the other person. Chances are, they probably won’t even remember what happened after a while.
- Find a distraction. When you can’t stop thinking about that thing you said to the point that it’s driving you insane, it’s time to switch things up. You have to occupy your mind with other things so that there’s no room left for obsession. Read a book, go for a run, get absorbed in some new Netflix true crime documentary, whatever. Do whatever it takes to get the conversation out of your head.
- Get some outside perspective. Sometimes discussing your feelings with a friend or family member can provide a fresh perspective and give you the reality check you need to realize that what you said really wasn’t a big deal. Or, it could be that it was a big deal but that someone you’re close to can give you encouragement and reassurance so that you feel empowered to fix it.
- Say you’re sorry if it’s warranted. If your comment was pretty messed up and left someone feeling hurt or offended, you need to apologize and it needs to be genuine — not just to assuage your own conscience. Saying you’re sorry when you’ve said or done something inappropriate shows your maturity and willingness to amend things. Depending on what you said, the other person may not accept your apology right away, and that’s okay. At least it’s out there.
- See it as an opportunity for growth. Use this experience as a learning curve. Maybe you’re bad at controlling your temper. Or, perhaps what you said was true to how you felt but you weren’t even aware you felt that way previously. Use this admittedly uncomfortable situation as a catalyst for greater self-exploration and evolution. That will make it much easier to bear.
- Vow to be more mindful. Many of us are notorious for running off at the mouth when we’re in the heat of the moment and the discussion involves something we feel passionately about, whether positively or negatively. However, the old “think before you speak” adage is something we can all learn from. It’s important to assess the words that are about to come out of your mouth before you say them because some of them can’t be taken back. Commit to being more mindful in your future interactions not just with this person but in general. This way, you won’t end up obsessing over saying the wrong thing all the time!
- Give it time. Whether you just said something slightly awkward or silly that the other person will eventually totally forget about or you truly upset someone and they need time to work through their feelings and accept your apology, understand that it’ll eventually pass. Unless you’re some kind of demonic monster who said something truly horrific and unforgivable, awkward situations like this don’t last forever. Be willing to wait.
- Show yourself a bit of grace. At the end of the day, you’re a human being and everyone slips up from time to time. Cut yourself some slack and remember that you’re not a bad person — you just messed up a bit. It’s really no big deal. You’ll be fine!