How to Recover Gracefully from Common Social Etiquette Blunders


Social Etiquette blunders seem to be increasingly easy to commit. In our haste to get a million things done each day, it can be easy to slip up and make an embarrassing mistake. How does one recover from a social blunder gracefully and with style? We have collated five common social blunders and offer our suggestions on how to gracefully recover from any social etiquette faux pas.


The Group Email Blunder

It is a sick feeling when you realise your hasty reply to an email was inadvertently sent as reply-all. And, now your message or personal information has been sent to the entire mailing list of your child’s class or to your entire sports club. In this case, being meticulous in checking your recipient list before pressing send can avoid a lot of unnecessary angst. But, if the deed is done, you can consider sending a quick reply-all and apologise for the slip-up. Here is a great reply:

Subject: Apologies

My apologies – I have just sent an email that obviously wasn’t for you. My sincere apologies.

Best regards,…


The Name Amnesia Blunder

This social blunder sneaks up on all of us. It is that moment when you are looking directly at someone you have met many times before, but your mind is drawing a blank on his or her name. To avoid embarrassment all around you can try to avoid admitting you forgot their name. If you find you need to introduce them to someone else simply ask both people if they know each other. Then pause. Hopefully, in this pause, they will reach out to introduce themselves to each other and you are gracefully saved. Alternatively, you are just going to have to own up to having a ‘senior moment’ and have forgotten their name.


The Humiliating Public Fall

Tripping on a curb or slipping on a wet floor is one of the most embarrassing social blunders we can make. So, what is the best way to quickly recover from falling on your backside in front of others? With humour mixed with a little humility! Get up, brush yourself off and laugh it off as a silly mistake.


The equally embarrassing spillage of food or drink

Knocking over your glass of wine or catapulting your fork onto your lap are just two of a hundred ways we can drip, dribble or spill food and drink in public. And, the only way to recover gracefully is, again, with a mixture of humour and humility. Laugh at the awkward moment to lessen the tension around the table. Apologize to your host and offer to help clean up any mess made. If real damage has been done to carpet or someone else’s clothing, it is polite to offer to cover the cost of any cleaning bills.


The Blunder of Forgetting to Respond

You realize the day before an event that you never got around to letting the host know you if you are able to attend their event. We all know it is polite to respond promptly to a formal invitation, and prior to the RSVP date. But, if you have blundered and forgotten to do this, the best thing is to own up and call the host. Apologize for not replying on time. Let them know if you still intend to attend. If you have another important engagement you must attend instead, apologize for the late notice of your absence, thank them for their invitation and wish them a successful event.


Gracefully Recovering in Any Situation

1.    Gracefully recovering from any social blunder requires admitting you made a mistake. You can choose to laugh it off or take a more serious and apologetic approach to the blunder. But, don’t pretend it didn’t happen. When we ignore our mistakes we let others draw the conclusion that we don’t care, don’t know better or are trying to hide something. It is better to just own a mistake than have someone form a wrong opinion about your actions.

2.    Acknowledge anyone who may have been affected by our blunder and apologize for any harm it may have caused them. A short simple apology goes a long way.

3.    Accept and Move On. We all make blunders and mistakes at times and we all move on from them. Don’t dwell too long on a blunder once you have apologized and acted to rectify any harm.

4.    Remember to be gracious when someone else makes a social blunder. It can happen to the best of us.


When someone does something wrong, don’t forget all the things they have done right!