Though these missteps won’t ruin your life, they are cringe-worthy enough to make you want to hide under the covers for a few days. Repair your rep with these tips from our experts.
ANNIE LEE: Entertaining Expert
Scenario: You throw a party and only five people come. The key is to hide your disappointment and not pout about it—you don’t want to punish the guests who did show up. First off, don’t cop to inviting a ton of people. Instead, spin the situation to make it sound positive. Say, “Since there are so few of us tonight, we can open that nice bottle of wine I’ve been saving.” Then subtly take away some of the plates and food so it doesn’t seem obvious that you were expecting a larger crowd. And when you see the no-shows at work or out with friends, don’t act annoyed (although you can mention that you missed them at the gathering). You don’t know their reasons for skipping your get-together, and they had no idea so many other people would do the same.
For your next party, give a definite start time on the invite and make it convenient—say, right after work or on a Saturday evening. Also add an RSVP—people feel more accountable if they’ve told you they’re going to come—and indicate something special about the fete (“Help us enjoy the treats we brought back from our trip to Italy!”).
DR. BELISA VRANICH: Sex & Relationships Expert
Scenario: You get way too drunk on a first date. It’s easy to overindulge when you’re out with someone new: You’re nervous and reaching for that glass of wine gives you something to do. But while alcohol can help you relax and reduce your inhibitions, getting a little too loose (yes, dancing on a table falls into this category) can make you look like a lush. College parties aside, men do find overimbibing unattractive—and a study from Loyola Marymount University found that it takes fewer drinks to cross that line than women think.
If you wake up the next morning with that sinking “Oh no, what have I done?” feeling in your stomach, start damage control. Shoot off a quick email or text saying, “I normally don’t drink that much—sorry if I got a little silly!” Then ask him if he wants to meet up with you for a non-bar activity, like grabbing some coffee and walking around a park. It may not erase the first impression you left on him, but it’s worth a shot. The next first date you go on, err on the side of sobriety. Eat a snack before you head out, and if you notice yourself ordering a second cocktail within an hour, slow it down by asking for a glass of water with every alcoholic drink. If you feel the need to match the guy found for found, offer to buy him his next one while you slowly finish yours. You both will benefit from the break.
NICOLE WILLIAMS: Career Expert
Scenario: You send a scathing email to the wrong person at work. After a co-worker sends you an annoying email, you forward it to a friend with a snide comment. But you mistakenly hit “reply.” Sound familiar? Our lives are so fast-paced that we often shoot off messages without even thinking—it’s amazing this doesn’t happen more often!
When you do punch the wrong computer key, don’t just ignore it, as tempting as that may be. Find the person you bad-mouthed and talk to her face-to-face. First tell her how sorry you are and then explain that you’re having a horrible day or were feeling frustrated and just took it out on her. If you accidentally hit “reply all” and sent the nasty note to a larger group of people, see as many as you can in person and send an apologetic follow-up email to everyone. Remember that any time you put something in writing, you can’t control who will see it down the line. If you absolutely need to complain to a pal about a coworker, try to do it in person. If you can’t resist the temptation, don’t forward a message. Create an entirely new document and triple check the recipient’s address.