You committed a cardinal corporate sin: You overstepped your bounds, bungled a project, embarrassed a superior, or lost an opportunity. Fact is, you're still employed, even if you're untouchable. You're doing something right, or have a guardian angel. Either way, your luck may be running out. Try these strategies to start making things right.
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You committed a cardinal corporate sin: You overstepped your bounds, bungled a project, embarrassed a superior, or lost an opportunity. Fact is, you're still employed, even if you're untouchable. You're doing something right, or have a guardian angel. Either way, your luck may be running out. Try these strategies to start making things right.
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Losing Face: A Guide to Redemption

A Recipe for Repurification
A Recipe for Repurification
You committed a cardinal corporate sin: You overstepped your bounds, bungled a project, embarrassed a superior, or lost an opportunity. Fact is, you're still employed, even if you're untouchable. You're doing something right, or have a guardian angel. Either way, your luck may be running out. Try these strategies to start making things right.
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1. Perform an Act of Contrition
1. Perform an Act of Contrition
You can feel the tension. Despite the silent and occasionally brusque treatment, your peers are really waiting for you to own up, show humility, express remorse, and make amends. They blame you, and perception is everything. Beyond an apology, make a gesture to demonstrate you understand. Whether you cater lunch or volunteer for the dunk tank at the company fair, show you "get it."
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2. Carry On
2. Carry On
What's done is done. Whatever your intent, it didn't work out as planned. And you can't deny what's happened. You can let it haunt, if not define, you—or you can focus on the here and now. Use it as a learning experience, to better understand your shortcomings and the people around you. Accept that some people will take time to forgive and trust you. Get your head up and quit dwelling. The world keeps moving. Five years from now you'll view it as a blip, if not a blessing.
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3. Go Above and Beyond
3. Go Above and Beyond
They're giving you a second chance. So how do you get back into everyone's good graces? There's no real secret: Do more and do it better. Get some successes under your belt. Take on an intimidating task and accomplish it. In short, make them look good, and make their lives easier.
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4. Get It Out in the Open
4. Get It Out in the Open
Everyone is talking, and you know what they're saying. You may as well bring it to the forefront. In public or private, own up to what happened and apologize. They won't want to hear you explain your thought processes and extenuating circumstances. You've lost your standing; they'll see any arguments as excuses. No, your superiors and peers only want to know that you see things from their side of the desk—and that your transgression will never happen again.
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5. Rebuild Relationships
5. Rebuild Relationships
You had your advocates. They gave you their time and trust, opening doors for you. And you repaid that debt by disappointing them. It's time to invest in those relationships you took for granted. Rekindling relationships is as demanding as building them. It takes shared experience and small acts of kindness to create goodwill. Trust requires patience, acceptance, sacrifice, and vulnerability. Put in the time and commitment, knowing in advance the relationships may never equal what they once were.
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6. Ask for Help
6. Ask for Help
You can't make a comeback on your own. People naturally want to assist when you're distressed and sincere. Now is the time to cash in all those favors and the goodwill you've accrued. Tap your network. Ask them what you should do to get back in good graces. If you're not too radioactive, have them put in a good word for you. At the same time, return the favor in some way.
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7. Show You've Changed
7. Show You've Changed

You've been chastened. And everyone harbors doubts about you. So do the unexpected. Become the antithesis of everything negative they've come to expect from you. If you were perceived as arrogant, act modest and graciously deflect credit to others. If aloof, step out of your shell and mix regularly. Bottom line: Change the conversation about you. Who knows, you might enjoy your own company more in the process.

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8. Go Outside Your Company
8. Go Outside Your Company
Looking for redemption? Sometimes you need to take your case outside the company walls. Most people associate Michael Milken with junk bonds, but his larger legacy may be his philanthropy. Follow a similar path. Broaden your network by immersing yourself in community, charitable, or professional efforts. Look for new channels in which to build your reputation.
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9. Try to Fix It
9. Try to Fix It
Ever seen a "You break it, you buy it" sign in a store? It's also great advice for business. Take ownership of your gaffe. Fact is, you probably know the history, personalities, and details better than anyone. Determine what it'll take to clean up this mess. Pitch in behind the scenes, since your direct involvement is probably a liability. You may not earn public credit, but the people who matter will notice.
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10. Get Out
10. Get Out
You can see what's coming. They're already going around you and shifting responsibilities. Sometimes there isn't a happy ending. They're phasing you out and there's nothing you can do about it. Accept reality and get a clean slate somewhere else. It's best for both of you in the long run.
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