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I've made a stupid mistake at a company event (nothing to do with work, but the whole crew was there).

Here's what I did: I've decided to stream an event using a live stream from the Internet and a projector. Sound was choppy, picture was grainy and laggy, and the stream cut off in the most important second. Turnout was greater than expected, so some folks (in particular small ones) couldn't see from the back.

Here's what I should have done, retrospectively: Use the good old SAT TV. It's a bit smaller, but it's high up right under the ceiling, so everyone could see. Sound and picture were superb. Some people did turn on the TV, but I told them to turn it off again.

Basically, my mistake was that I thought I (non-technical) knew better than some (technical) people (those who used the TV), and that I even scolded them for turning on the TV.

Obviously, that didn't go well, and about a dozen people seem to have cut me out. They stopped greeting, don't recognise my presence and generally start talking in a rather sarcastic manner to me when they need something from me. This makes my job (office receptionist) rather difficult.

How do I gracefully get past this? Do I apologise to them in person? Or do I just simply craft a catch-all company-wide email, and let it be?

  • Was it your job to stream this live event in the first place? – paparazzo Dec 31 '17 at 14:08
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Question: How to back out here gracefully? Do I apologise to them in person?

You figure out who you called out in public and apologize in private. You ask if you can have 5 minutes of their time where you'd like to apologize for your actions, how wrong they were, and what you will do to ensure you don't do it again.

Or do I just simply craft a catch-all company-wide email, and let it be?

No, no need to make a bigger issue out of a small one, nor would it be wise to make it a spectacle of your mistake as well as the apology that follows.

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Looks like they spread a rumor about you calling people out because it seems like there are some people outside of the people you called out that are hostile towards you.

I would just send out an email list to the people at the event apologizing for the technical difficulties and your lack of technical knowledge.

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"Basically, my mistake was that I thought I (non-technical) knew better than some (technical) people (those who used the TV), and that I even scolded them for turning on the TV."

You're going to have a VERY hard time coming back from that one. Your real issue wasn't that your presentation failed. Your real issue wasn't that you chose the wrong technology. Your REAL issue is that you held yourself up to know more than people who make it their profession to know more.

You have insulted them personally and professionally, and you did so publicly.

Here's something that you don't yet know: People like that (and I am one) will NEVER forget that. You will always be tainted.

Yes, you should apologize to each and every one of them individually, and they will appreciate it. Just know that you will likely never have their respect, and you will always be "that guy" in their mind.

It depends on your business as to whether you can operate without their full support. If you're in an insurance company, you may be just fine. If you're in a high-tech or telecom company - you may want to start looking for a transfer.

  • Appreciate the downvotes. Truth hurts. – Wesley Long Dec 31 '17 at 20:39
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    I have to agree. First impressions always last, and it takes a long time to rebuild lost trust. It's a fact of human nature. You can apologize, yes, but chances are those individuals will always have that first impression of you. Perhaps you were nervous about the presentation, and in time, those individuals will understand that about you. – Dan Jan 2 '18 at 13:40
  • My +1 is because this answer states the way the situation is, though that's not how it should be. Sounds like OP was in the wrong but is sorry about it; that should get half the respect back. People hold grudges over random things; sometimes that even gets you an inaccurate reputation. Still, that's the way it is. – Aaron Jan 3 '18 at 19:37

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