What workers can learn from the mishaps of Mariah Carey, Jimmy Fallon, Tony Romo and Jenna Hagar Bush.
Obvious lip syncing, cringe-worthy monologues, sad-sack concession speeches – it’s just another day at the office for the rich and famous.
Even an army of managers and public relations gurus can’t keep celebrities from having moments like these. But for the rest of us, celeb screwups, bizarre behaviors and unfortunate mishaps can teach us how to get ahead at work — or at least keep us from falling behind.
When you’re insulted by a colleague and want to write an angry response
Over the weekend, Donald Trump hit back at Representative John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights hero, who said that Trump was not “a legitimate president” in a television interview, with a tweet claiming that Lewis’ district was “falling apart” and “crime infested” and that the man himself was “all talk, talk, talk – no action or results.” And Trump continued the feud Tuesday morning:
John Lewis said about my inauguration, "It will be the first one that I've missed." WRONG (or lie)! He boycotted Bush 43 also because he…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 17, 2017
What to do if this happens to you at work: Before writing a response to an insult from a colleague, wait a minimum of half an hour, as responding in the moment “can be very dangerous … you are very likely to say things that you shouldn’t,” says Cheryl Palmer, the founder of career counseling firm Call to Career. And if you’re really angry, wait 3 to 4 hours or even overnight, experts say. If you must write something right away, New York-based career coach Roy Cohen recommends putting your thoughts into a draft but not hitting send; revisit the response after you’ve cooled down and edit it then. And ask a respected colleague how to respond: Sometimes what you read as nasty is simply a misunderstanding, he adds.
Mariah Carey performs during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square in New York.
( ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
When you have a major public screwup
Thanks to a technical malfunction this New Year’s Eve in Times Square, fans got a front-row seat to Mariah Carey lip syncing some of her hits. Mariah was quick to blame the production team, saying “They foiled me … it turned into an opportunity to humiliate me.”
What to do if this happens to you at work: Don’t play the blame game: Apologize, be honest about what happened and take ownership of the mess-up, says executive coach Marc Dorio, author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Career Advancement.” At the same time, spin the incident in the most flattering (though still honest) way you can, “so the story doesn’t get out of hand,” says career coach Hallie Crawford. Once you’ve done this, rebrand yourself: Volunteer for projects that you’ll excel at, work hard and late — whatever it takes to change the perception that you’re a screw-up, says Cohen.
When technology lets you down
Thanks in part to a teleprompter fail at the Golden Globes this month, Jimmy Fallon earned rotten reviews for hosting the event. Though he immediately acknowledged the failure, that didn’t save him from critics.
What to do if this happens to you at work: Always have a backup plan, Palmer advises: Bring copies of a presentation with you, in addition to your PowerPoint, for example. That way, if the technology does go down, you can use the moment to be the kind of person who is quick on their feet when things go wrong, he says.
When a lower-ranking employees does a better job than you
After breaking his collarbone twice in 2015, Dallas Cowboy’s quarterback Tony Romo was unable to play for months as he healed. Quarterback Dak Prescott stepped in — and lead the team all the way to the playoffs. But fans were left to wonder: What would Tony Romo do when he recovered? The answer: Bow out gracefully in a concession speech. “Dak Prescott, and what he’s done, he’s earned the right to be our quarterback,” Romo said in November. “As hard as that is for me to say, he’s earned that right.”
What to do if this happens to you at work: Highlight the skills you do better than the lower ranking employee, says Cohen, who recommends volunteering for a project where your stellar skills will shine. If you don’t have any stellar skills, polish up on the skills you do have: “Have a conversation with your boss right away and find out what gaps you need to fill, and go in with a plan for how to fix it and fill the gaps,” says Crawford.
When you accidentally say something that might be offensive
During the Golden Globes earlier this month, Jenna Bush Hager referred to the film “Hidden Figures” as “Hidden Fences” — a seemingly honest mix-up that caused a social media firestorm because both films, “Hidden Figures” and “Fences,” have African-American leads. The following day, Hager apologized for the error: “I have seen both movies. I thought they were both brilliant,” she said. “If I offended people, I am deeply sorry. It was a mistake … What I didn’t want to do was make anybody feel lesser than who they are.”
What to do if this happens to you at work: If you misspeak but don’t see a reaction from anyone, “just let it go,” says Dorio: “Sometimes you can make it a bigger problem by drawing attention to it.” If, however, someone appears offended (even if they don’t explicitly say that), acknowledge the mistake and apologize. Do this by saying “please forgive me” rather than “I’m sorry,” which he says can come off as glib.
This story was originally published on MarketWatch.
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