Learn what to do after you forget something or someone important.

I stood embarrassed like a monkey’s uncle on the stage at a family celebration when I forgot to formally acknowledge my cousin David’s engagement to his sweetie-pie Amy. Fact: every speaker, from emerging emcee to professional presenter, will encounter a lapse in memory and forget to mention something or someone important. These times of forgetfulness – known as senior moments to the older generation and brain farts to the younger – can be reduced to a minimum, but never completely avoided (see Murphy’s Law). Learning to bounce back from a blunder is a crucial skill to master. The following fundamental formula leads to success and will take your FARForegive, Acknowledge andRebuild.

FORGIVE Yourself

When you make an omission, which I call “Ginko Goofs” – named after the great memory aid ginko biloba, accept the fact you made a mistake and forgive yourself. The more you say “I’m perfect” or “I never make a mistake” means you’re in true-blue denial and your pending ginko goof will be gigantic.

It’s vital to release the self-imposed guilt, which is easier to write than do, but I was finally able to let it go…the next day. I can’t change the past, but I can fix the future.

ACKNOWLEDGE the Ommission

Had I realized my gaff, I would have politely acknowledged my ommission and made amends. A simple and effective explanation of, “My adrenaline was pumping so fast that my brain short-circutted like Homer Simpson: Doh! I forgot to recognize my cousin David, who’s adrenaline is pumping harder and faster because Amy just said ‘Yes’ to his proposal. Amy, please pardon him for any mental malfunctions that might occur in the next 72 hours.”

But I didn’t grasp the depth of my ginko goof until much later. Double Doh! No way to fix my faux pas infront of family and friends. David and Amy must have felt unappreciated or unimportant when the exact opposite is true. What to do?

REBUILD the Friendship

The top question to answer is, “How can I rebuild the relationship after I falter?” Simple and direct tends to work best, so I called my cousin and apologized. David said, “It's all good. I think everyone has forgotten someone during a speech at one time or another.” Classy.

Another option is to give special attention to the person(s) after the fact. Ask yourself, “Where’s the opportunity in the mistake?” Besides, a life without a few ginko goofs is, well, boring.


Your turn: How have you overcome a ginko goof?

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