What to Do When You’ve Messed Up and Said Something Harmful

We all know the feeling. We let a casual comment fly out without thinking. We post an article or meme and there’s unexpected backlash. We add our voice to the comments section and get ripped a new one.

Oh, the shame.

Shame is a tricky bitch. Shame shows up and suddenly we’re defending our stance to the death (and we’re not exactly sure why). We’re frantically deleting our post, our comment, the replies to our comment, and fuck it, let’s just get off social media altogether until this thing cools off…

Shame causes us to totally freak out and react inappropriately to what is in fact, a learning opportunity.

Why do we crumple over feedback? How did our egos get so fragile?

The truth is that most of the time our reaction to the feedback causes us to dig ourselves an even deeper hole than the one we started in. We don’t have to do that. It doesn’t have to get that bad.

There’s a much simpler way to respond to feedback when you’ve said or done something harmful. It’s direct. It’s accountable. It’s humble. It’s healing. And it’s this:

“I messed up. I’m sorry. I’m still learning. I’m learning from this moment, and I hope that you’ll accept my apology.”

And then? You leave it at that. And you do better next time. Keep growing.

McKensie “Bunny” Mack is an awesome consultant, coach, and artist to learn from when it comes to communication, intention, and impact. Bunny speaks to our tendency to get so stuck on not wanting to perpetuate harm that we forget about our potential to heal. Our need to be perfect and do no harm is in fact the very thing that harms others. Silence is not healing. Accountability is. Avoidance is not healing. Humility is. Showing up imperfectly is better than not showing up at all. We cannot grow without imperfection.

Bunny speaks to the truth that It’s more helpful for us and for the people we might harm to simply accept that we are capable of harm. We’re human beings. And so rather than deny and avoid the truth that we can and will mess up, wade into that truth with compassion and grace. Be accountable to that truth. And remember:

“If you can harm, you can heal.” – McKensie Mack

Check out more from McKensie Mack.

And if you want more support on “5 Easy Steps to Stop Arguing and Start Communicating”, grab your free copy here!