What diet coke and red wine can teach us about mistakes

When in Paris recently my wife ordered a diet coke and received a glass of red wine. It was an insight into how ‘good’ our basic French was (it was terrible) as well as a fascinating example of how to respond to mistakes.

In this case we explained to the waiter (in even worse French) about the mishap, apologised for our terrible French and she proceeded to laugh and swap the drinks, without fuss. It was funny, a little bit awkward and easily fixed.

It got me thinking about all those times when we don’t laugh off a mistake. When we choose to avoid the awkward and get angry or frustrated at a miscommunication at work. When we take a mistake personally and create a story that someone is out to sabotage us rather than pausing to laugh at what might have transpired.

No-one wakes up in the morning hoping to make a bunch of mistakes. No-one hopes to miscommunicate and cause frustration. No-one wants to serve someone a red wine when they ordered a diet coke.

So what might it look like if we acted as such?