There’s a nice gift shop in Montreal.

It sells cards as well as beautifully packaged soaps, candles and other items you wouldn’t necessarily buy for yourself but would love to receive.

I went there last week and found a pale pink silver plated frame.

The perfect gift for a friend!

When I got home and opened the box, the frame inside was cream not pale pink.

My heart sank.

I tried to reason with myself, “This is still a very nice frame.”

But the cream frame wasn’t the ‘perfect gift’ for my friend in the way that the pink one was.

My next thought was that it’s going to take me an hour out of my already busy day tomorrow to exchange it.

So when I phoned the store and explained what happened, my voice might have sounded cheerful but inside I was feeling grumpy.

She immediately said, “I am so sorry.”

Then, while I was still on the phone she put the pink frame to one side with my name on it.

The next day, when I went to make the exchange, the sales assistant again said how sorry she was and gave me a small box of chocolates for the inconvenience of a return visit.

I left the store feeling happy.

Mistakes happen all the time, but it’s how we handle a mistake that makes all the difference in relationships.

Here’s a simple 4 step plan to fix a mistake.

It’s helpful to use this framework if you, like many ADHDers beat yourself up and replay scenarios over again and again, and wish you had done things differently, and generally over think things.

Instead, if you follow this plan, you can take care of the problem and confidently move on.

  1. Say sorry

It’s easy to pass the responsibility onto someone else,”The manufacturer must have labeled the box wrong,” or “My boss made me stay late so I forgot to take the garbage out.”’

Even if it’s true, it’s not what the other person wants to hear in that moment.

A simple sorry defuses the situation.

When the sales assistant said sorry on the phone, it had the magical effect of dissolving my annoyance in the situation.

2. Take action

What can you do to correct the mistake? Take the garbage out right away, put the frame to one side.

Actions speak louder than words, so take a physical action to help fix the mistake.

3. Above and beyond

Is there anything else you could do to go a little bit above what is expected?

You want to strike the right balance because if you give too much, the recipient might feel uncomfortable.

Try and match the gesture to the size of the mistake, in this case the small box of chocolates was just the right sized gesture.

4. Reflect

What would you do differently next time?

This step is powerful because it allows you to learn and grow as a person, as well as reducing the chance of the same thing happening again and again.

I don’t know if the sales assistant reflected, but I did.

What I would do differently next time is listen to my inner voice.

When I was about to pay, my inner voice said, “heck inside the box,” but I ignored it.

There was a line of people behind me, and I didn’t want to take those extra few minutes and be the ‘annoying slow person!’

However, when I do listen to my wise inner voice, it’s never wrong.


How you correct a mistake once it’s happened.

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