We’ve all been there at some point in our lives! That uncomfortable, embarrassing and regretful situation we know that could’ve been avoided. But it happened and there we are standing there being berated or accused by someone who is in a position (and well within his/her rights) to blame us for our actions.
You want it to end! You want things to go back to the way they were. You want to say or do something to make it all right but you don’t what’s the right to say and you don’t know what’s the right thing to do.
These are some of the common problems that I help my clients to deal with on a regular basis, which is what inspired this article.
What Not To Say and Do
As much as you don’t want to admit it, you did something wrong! So, lying further is not the answer! As well as, avoiding the situation, which gives the other person the impression that you don’t ‘care’ about him/her. Lying further (especially after getting caught) is going to deteriorate the relationship, not to mention it’d affect your reputation and integrity, going forward.
As the old saying goes, ‘to hide one lie, you have to say a thousand more.’
Saying ‘sorry’ (as in the actual word) shouldn’t be used ‘candidly’. When you say ‘sorry’ you are verbally seeking forgiveness from another person against whom the mistake was made, in the hope for reconciliation. DO NOT TRIVIALIZE IT!
If it’s used too much (for just about any situation) the weight of the apology goes away and soon it’s not going to MEAN anything! If used too little or not at all, it shows lack of remorse from your side. I wouldn’t categorize ‘Saying Sorry’ under ‘what not to say and do’, nor under ‘what to say and do’. As positioned in this article, it comes somewhere in between, which is my way of saying it’s a judgment call based on the ‘who’, the ‘situation’ and the ‘why’.
What To Say And Do
Understanding The Problem: When you’re caught in a lie, it always boils down to the question, ‘Why did you lie to me?’ Not that you lied or the reason that you did what you did, but the reason you lied to the person who is asking you that question. Which means he/she had expectations of you and you let that person down (Your Reputation). And, your actions have invited another question, “don’t you trust me?” (Your Reliability) So, now you have two solve two problems!
Solving The Problem: The truth shall set you free! Yes, whether you choose to say sorry or not, you’ll need to admit what you did and more importantly why you did it. YOU NEED TO SAY YOUR TRUTH! Reputation and trust can only be earned back if the other person knows your truth. You need to be clear and precise about why you did what you did and why you kept from him/her. It is important that the person understands your issue with sharing that information with him/her. It’s not easy for some. It’s always going to be embarrassing, but here are a few things to keep in mind when you finally open up;
- Attitude: Getting angry, being defensive, pretending like it’s nothing are some of the common traits displayed by many when they try to explain themselves. Instead, be calm and sincere in the way you communicate. Make sure your arms are to your sides (open body language) while speaking. Keep your tone steady and deliberate. Things like these register on a sub-conscious level, allowing the other person to acknowledge the importance of what you’re saying and doing.
- Reassure: Tell the other person why you chose to lie or keep the matter from him/her. Maybe it’s a question of your image or how you’d like to be seen by him/her. And then tell the other person that he/she is indeed important to you and that’s why you are explaining your actions to him/her. By doing so, you’re making the issue about you, rather than about the other person which takes away the misunderstanding. This invites trust and respect and immediately diffuses the situation.
- Direction: Tell him/her you’d like to move past this and not turn this into a difficult situation (communicating your displeasure in talking about this matter any further.) Of course, there will be a few days of bitter resentment and you will probably have to go through a few ‘punishment’ tactics. But give it enough time and you’re going to come out of this feeling better and stronger! Guaranteed.
Finally, I’m going to end with this piece of advice – DON’T LIE to the people that matter to you.
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Originally published at Linkedin