When You Mean Well, But Put Your Foot in Your Mouth

Dunkin’ Donuts is a comfort to me when I travel.

When I see a Dunkin’, I think everything is going to be OK. It’s not that I eat donuts. I eat a bagel with a medium coffee, cream and sugar.

Foot in mouth incident:

On the way home from New York City, I told my bride, “I’d rather see you than a Dunkin’ Donuts.” We’d just passed a Dunkin’ Donuts.

What I meant was, “You’re a comfort to me.” But strangely, she didn’t take a liking to being compared to Dunkin’ Donuts.

I explained that seeing a Dunkin’ Donuts makes me feel like everything is going to be OK. (I admit that’s strange.) My explanation helped but comparing my wife to a donut is – generally speaking – a bad idea.

When you mean well, but put your foot in your mouth:

  1. Apologize.
  2. Declare your intention.
  3. Begin again with greater wisdom.

Trust and screwing up:

Comparing my wife to Dunkin’ Donuts is humorous – now that she understands what I meant and I realize how dumb the statement sounds.

Every once in a while, I’m going to say, “I’d rather see you than a Dunkin’ Donuts.” We’ll laugh and she’ll know that I love her.

Trust makes mistakes useful, after you make things right.

What dumb things might leaders do after they screw up?

How might leaders get the most from screwing up?

Bonus material:

What to do when you’ve Said the Wrong Thing (NYTimes)

How to Gracefully Backpedal when you’ve said the Wrong Thing (FC)