How to Handle Your “Bobo Moment”

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I bet every one of you has had a “Bobo Moment.” If you’ve got a minute and need a laugh, watch this short video to enjoy my Bobo Moment. If you don’t have the time to look at it now, simply think of a Bobo Moment as that time when something you said was grossly misconstrued.

How you should deal with your Bobo Moment depends upon two main factors:

• What was the context of your Bobo Moment? What is at stake?
• Will further action likely fix the problem or might further action compound it?

My Bobo Moment occurred while I was making a restaurant reservation, so there was not a lot at stake. But, imagine if your Bobo Moment occurs in the middle of a major work project.
Suppose you are working with several colleagues on a proposal and you can’t figure out how to answer one of the questions posed by the client. You sarcastically say, “Why don’t we just call the client and ask what the hell they want us to put down here?” You learn a bit later that Earnest Ed followed your “advice” and did just that! He called the client and asked! Needless to say, you are now in a predicament.

There’s no simple, guaranteed way to deal with this, or with ANY Bobo moment. But, if you use the two factors above to analyze each situation, you can lower the risk of possibly compounding the problem. Here’s where my analysis comes out for our imaginary Bobo moment:

• The professional context is a lot more serious than my reservation situation. It calls for careful consideration because a major proposal is at stake. But what is potentially also at stake is the longer-term relationship with the client.
• It is by no means certain that further action will fix the problem.

So, you can clearly see that context is key, but context can be pretty complicated. There are lots of factors that might come into play. In our example, these factors might include how well you know the client and whether the client is familiar with Earnest Ed. If you have a long history and a good relationship with the client, the likelihood of true harm from this Bobo Moment is probably pretty small. But if you have no history with the client at all, well, it could be dicey. And, following up with the client to try to undo Earnest Ed’s harm may very well compound it.

So, what’s the takeaway? Certainly, you can err on the side of caution and live by the rule of “when in doubt, leave Bobo out.” But, even if you do your best to avoid a Bobo Moment, sooner or later, one will happen. When it does, keep the two important factors in mind. Take a deep breath and hold off on taking any precipitous further action until you’ve thought everything through. The good thing about Bobo Moments is that they pass. And, they make great stories—and even videos!

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