by Richie Frieman
Let’s be honest here and admit we’ve all sent a text or email that we prayed didn’t make it. But despite cursing your phone or computer screen like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, your message was still delivered. Don’t worry; there are some clever ways to survive this tragic event.
What to Do After Sending an Embarrassing Text or Email
First we need to accept that unless DeLorean starts mass producing actual time machines, you can’t go back to the future to change your embarrassing text or email. You can only hope to recover some integrity. In this article, I’ll cover three common embarrassing scenarios and how to recover politely, professionally, and of course with some good humor.
Embarrassing Text or Email #1: The Drunken Message
My all time favorite.
The drunken message usually occurs on weekends, from the hours of 11PM to 3AM, after--or while--consuming enough alcohol that Lindsay Lohan herself would even advise slowing down a bit. The texter/emailer usually thinks that right now is both the perfect and necessary time to express their true feelings—whether it’s professing their love or saying rather colorfully that they’re glad the relationship is O V E R.
The worst thing about this instance is that you usually don’t realize you sent the message until several hours later, when you wake up in the same clothes you went out in, face down in your living room, with the cell phone still in your hand. It’s at that point that you scream a rainbow of expletives and pray you didn’t press “send.” But please know, you definitely did.
The best way to put this fire out--go for a laugh. The fact that you have a friendly relationship with the person could be your saving grace. Even if you aren’t funny, try your best--or email me, I’ll help you out. Something like, “Oh that message? Let me explain, see what happened was last night I wanted to see what it’s like to be a complete and utter jackass and to ruin a great relationship. Wouldn’t you know--I nailed it! Let’s talk more over lunch? My treat.”
The person will at least know you tried. I can’t promise it will completely salvage the relationship, but it will at least get you another chance to prove yourself.
Embarrassing Text or Email #2: The Tell A Coworker or Boss What I Really Think
Usually this horrific accident is made due to urgency and/or frustration. It’s a quick trigger reaction when you need to vent. When you are this heated, manners are surely the last thing on your mind. But telling your coworker or boss where they can “go” or what to “stick” and “where” is beyond rude and of course a professional crash. These kinds of texts or emails always come back to haunt you--especially since come “New Job Search Time,” your possible new employer will most likely call your old employer. Awkward.
So preventing the offensive email or text in the first place is the goal, but what happens when you intended the venting message to go only to your close friends—not the boss or coworker who received it?
In this case the only answer is to just be professional and honest. Take the blame. People will respect you more for honesty than trying to BS your way out of it. “About that message--it was wrong; I was wrong and I know it. There is nothing more to say … it was just a very poor choice of action. Hopefully you will accept my sincerest apology.”
You can call it groveling or begging, but you still need to try to rebuild your reputation. Honesty is always the best solution.
And one last thing: unless your boss is fifteen, never text them something important--it’s tacky.
Embarrassing Text or Email #3: The Embarrassing Photo You Shouldn’t Have Sent
I know, I know, it was soooo funny when you took the photo of your friend flipping off some old lady who just took his cab. And of course, you thought everyone would like a good laugh too, so you emailed it out.
However, in the midst of hilarity, did you ever think of whom you were sending it to. Friends are the best material for laughter--it’s what makes them friends in the first place--but certain circumstances call for a moral check. Especially when the girl your dear friend has been trying to impress for the past month just happened to receive the email as well. Way to go.
So how do you fix this little problem? Apologize with an example. Similar to the damage control you have to do with #2, this instance calls for some serious action. I suggest you do a reversal and make yourself the joke. Taking a photo of the two of you and a little sign that says, “I’m with Stupid,” with an arrow going up to your face, which is then emailed out again, usually does the job.
Will it completely diffuse the situation? Maybe not, but everyone will know you totally screwed up, and in this case, that’s what’s needed. As for your buddy who is now stuck in the “Friend Zone” with the girl of his dreams? Take him out for the most expensive dinner of his choosing. Chances are he won’t be going out anytime soon.
Do you have a story about an embarrassing text or email you sent? Post them on my Modern Manners Guy Facebook page so we can all share in your misery. As always if you have another manners question, I’m look forward to hearing from you so drop me a line at email@example.com. And of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips.
Thanks for listening to Modern Manners Guy’s quick and dirty tips for a more polite life.