A study by Hay Group found that 83 percent of companies in the U.S., China and India faced increasing competition to attract and retain candidates who possess strong soft skills. Hay Group Global Managing Director, Leadership and Talent, Ruth Malloy said the study results reveal an “awkward generation joining companies across the globe” many of whom have acquired technical skills, but lack the soft skills essential for lasting career success. Workers lacking in soft skills may, at times, give bad impressions of themselves around the office.

There will always be awkward encounters that leave you feeling embarrassed. Whether you made a professional faux pas or mixed up your words, it’s inevitable that you’ll stumble from time to time, especially early in your career. Learning how to redeem yourself from a negative impression is a critical skill for success in the workplace. Not sure how to do this? Worry not! Here are some proven tips and tricks.

Kind gesture

Have you ever been in a heated debate with a coworker during a team meeting? Rather than shooting sideways glances and mumbling under your breath for the rest of the day, surprise your coworker with a simple, kind gesture – an “olive branch” if you will. Bring them coffee the next day, or compliment some of their recent work. By showing respect for them, you’re demonstrating that you’re ready to put the past altercation where it belongs – in the past. Bonus points if you compliment them in public at the next team meeting.


We have a tendency to exaggerate the damage we’ve caused by saying something stupid. We toss and turn at night, replaying the incident over and over in our heads. The more we ruminate over it, the worse it becomes…or so we think. It’s possible that no one even noticed the stupid thing we said. In fact, most people are too busy thinking about what they’re about to say in a conversation that they’re hardly listening to what we’re saying. It’s an unfortunate truth, but sometimes it allows our blunders to go unnoticed. However, if you’re concerned about a possible impression you’ve made, simply approach the person and talk to them. Say something like, “Hey, I realized after we spoke yesterday that I made a mistake. When I said X, I meant to say Y.”


Apologizing can be difficult, but it’s often the most effective approach. Sometimes it’s just necessary to acknowledge that you were wrong and you regret what you said. Honesty and humility are good indicators of emotional intelligence, another crucial skill for success in the workplace. You may even elicit an empathetic reaction from the other person. Don’t forget to listen, too. Sometimes opening the conversation on negative feelings can provide insight on how both parties can improve moving forward.

The overarching theme is to acknowledge mistakes and make amends. Ignoring negative emotions can cause them to fester and grow, either on your own conscience or in the mind of someone else.

So, display a warm smile and put your best foot forward! You, your coworkers and your work environment will be better because of it.