What To Do When Things Go Wrong

Let’s face facts, life bears little resemblance to a fairy tale, and occasionally things might not go according to plan.

Things ever go wrong for you?

Yeah, I thought so! Murphy’s Law wasn’t ratified for no reason, after all!

The key to successfully navigating when things go awry seems to be how you react.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s just assume there are two ways things go wrong…

  1. YOU cause the problem or error
  2. The error or problem happens TO you

When the problem was caused by YOU or your staff, team or associates, and YOU are responsible, what should you do?

To begin, it is always a good rule of thumb to mentally count to ten and not have a knee jerk reaction. Although first instincts are often right on the money, in cases like this, one might become defensive and that isn’t going to help resolve the problem.

Problems happen for a variety of reasons, and perhaps the problem wasn’t necessarily your FAULT per se, but you are being blamed.

It is best to take some time and evaluate the situation. If the person claiming the problem is right in front of you, try just listening to them, REALLY listening. If you are not forced to take any immediate action, then, after getting all of the information you require, take some time to process and come up with a good resolution.

Think about the following:

What will happen if I do nothing?

What will happen if I correct the problem?

What, if anything, will it cost me to correct the problem?

What, if anything, will it cost me if I don’t correct the problem?

How can this problem be avoided in the future?

Even if you are “right” or the problem wasn’t technically your “fault,” that doesn’t necessarily mean you have no responsibility in trying to correct things.

Try to do the above evaluation, and with some time and creative thinking, it might be possible to turn a bad situation into a great opportunity. Research shows that a person is more likely to continue doing business with someone who has positively fixed a problem for them than someone with whom there were never any problems to begin with!

I know that sounds counterintuitive, but give it a try and see if you don’t just gain an even more loyal client, associate, friend, or family member just by creatively solving a problem that you might or might not have caused in the first place!

Looking at problems from the perspective of things going wrong, but happening TO you and not caused BY you, maybe try this approach:

Let’s say you’ve had a bad experience, maybe had an unsatisfactory meal at an expensive restaurant, perhaps you were overcharged for something, maybe the merchandise you bought didn’t perform as promised, perhaps you stayed in a dirty hotel room, maybe your flight was late, perhaps you were treated rudely at a shop. As we all know, this list could be endless.

So, you’ve experienced a problem, how do you handle it?

Well, I’m no expert in handling problems, but I’d posit that trying to be polite, respectful and informative will get you farther than if you are bombastic, rude and irate.

The same advice for what to do when you cause the problem applies here…take some time, consider your options, think about what to do. Ask yourself the following questions:

Did I contribute in any way to the problem?

Did I have unrealistic expectations?

To whom should I complain?

What result or outcome would I like to see?

If you have these answers in mind when you lodge your complaint, you might be happily surprised at the results you get. Try to remember that everyone (including you!) makes mistakes, and giving someone a chance to correct the problem is the right thing to do.

As my mother always says (although I don’t think she made it up), you catch more bees with honey than vinegar!

Try the power of nice and see if you don’t get your problem resolved amicably and to your satisfaction.


About the author

I am a third generation printer, and a second generation owner of Curry Printing. Ink (pms 185!) must run through my veins! As a "working owner," I am at Curry every day, working in and on my business. The old adage is true...if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life!

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