How to React When Being Caught Doing Something Wrong
Oops. You just got caught doing something you shouldn't have. What should you do? While we all make mistakes, knowing how to handle yourself when you are caught can mean the difference between a good laugh and a weekend in detention. Learn how to read the situation and choose how best to handle a moment when you've been caught doing something wrong.
Owning Up to Your Mistake
Admit that you did something wrong.If you know you've made a mistake and you've been caught, the best course of action is often to just admit it.Don't feel like you need to go into detail about it. Just stay calm, and speak matter-of-factly about the situation. Your reaction to being caught may have an impact on your punishment; you don't want to make things worse.
- Don't try and justify your actions. Say, "I know what I did was wrong, and I'm sorry."
- Saying as few words as possible in a serious tone is usually the right tactic. The sooner the interaction is over, the sooner you can put it behind you.
Let the person who caught you have their say.Whether it's your parents, a teacher, or someone else who caught you, let them react the way they want to. Don't cut them off; it is important that they feel like they are being heard. If you interrupt, it may appear as though you don't feel sorry for your mistake.
- You may want to solemnly nod your head as the person who caught you tells you what they think. This will make you seem more contrite.
- It's good to act sorry, but don't go overboard. Crying or yelling dramatically probably won't seem genuine under these circumstances.
Explain your side of the story.If you think it would help, you can explain why you did what you did. For example, if your mom caught you looking at a website that's banned in your house, tell her that your curiosity got the best of you. Tell her that it's difficult to keep yourself from exploring the internet, but you'll try hard not to let it happen again.
- In some cases, explaining your side of the situation could backfire. For example, if your teacher caught you cheating on a test, telling him that you forgot to study probably won't help your case. Under these circumstances, it's best to stay quiet.
Accept your punishment with grace.Actions have consequences; accepting them is a sign of good character. If you knew what you were doing was wrong, it's probably best to deal with the punishment instead of trying to resist it. Tell the your parent or teacher that you accept the punishment and will fulfill the requirements as soon as possible.
- In some cases you may not accept the punishment; you may feel it is unfair. Weigh the pros and cons of resisting. If you refuse the punishment, will it make things worse for you? Will it be worth it to take a principled stand? Only you can decide. You can either swallow the punishment and move on, or stand up for yourself and possibly face more extreme consequences.
Seek outside advice when needed.Getting caught for a minor mistake is one thing; getting caught doing something illegal is an entirely different matter. If you were caught doing something against the law, it's best to involve your parents instead of trying to handle the situation by yourself.
- If you were caught by a police officer or another authority, call your parents right away.
- If you were caught at school, it's also important to involve your parents immediately.
Apologizing When You Hurt Someone
Be sincere.If you were caught doing something that hurt someone else, an apology is probably in order. Tell the person that you sincerely regret hurting them. Don't add a "but" to the end of the apology. If you start making excuses, it weakens the effect.
- If you don't feel sorry, that's a different matter. Don't apologize unless you genuinely feel you owe the person an apology.
- You may need a few days to process what happened before you're able to form a sincere apology.
Hear the other person out.The other person may cry, feel angry, or give you the cold shoulder in reaction to what they caught you doing. They have a right to express their feelings. Do what you can to be supportive until the strong feelings subside.
- While it is important that the other person feel like they have their say, don't let your mistake become an occasion for dredging up past wrongs or dwelling on the injury.
- On the other hand, it is important that we do not impose our standards on someone else. Do not say, "you should be over this by now." Be sensitive to the other person's needs while keeping in mind the need to move on.
Get outside help if needed.Sometimes a mistake, even unintentional, can tear apart a relationship; it might take more than the two people involved to fix it. Find an objective third party, one whom both people trust, to play mediator.
- This could be a mutual friend or family member who's equally close to both people.
- You could also go to a counselor to help you solve the issue.
Making an Excuse
Stay calm.Don't let your emotions become the story by blowing your top or breaking down in tears; if you overreact, you'll only end up embarrassing yourself and end up digging a deeper hole. If you stay calm, chances are high that those around you will stay calm as well.
- Even if you know what you did was wrong, don't reveal it by showing strong emotion.
- Try taking a few deep breaths before you say anything.
Don't react to the mistake.Have you ever seen a performance, and known that a performer made a mistake, only by the way the performer reacted to it? There is a chance that no one but you knows what went wrong, but if you react to the mistake then everyone will know. Pretend instead that it was all part of the plan.
- For example, if your parents accuse you of staying out past curfew, act like you didn't realize it had gotten so late.
- Keep a straight face, and act slightly surprised if they push the issue.
Pick a good story.A good explanation of why you were doing what you were doing determines whether it is believable or not. In forming a good story, consider these factors:
- Keep it simple. Don't make up something that sounds extraordinary. For example, if you were out past curfew, you could say you kept hitting red lights.
- Make sure it is a story you can stick to. Changing your story is one of the biggest signs that you were lying.
Don't make a habit of lying.Maybe a good story will help you cover your tracks the first time, but eventually you'll be seen as someone who isn't trustworthy. When you're caught doing something wrong, it's usually best to own up to it.
QuestionWhat if I overslept for work and got fired?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJust be more responsible next time. You know where you went wrong, so just learn from your mistake and be careful not to repeat it.Thanks!
QuestionI got caught watching porn. What do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe answer really depends on who caught you. If it's a girlfriend or spouse who would feel hurt and betrayed by your actions, you need to apologize, for starters.Thanks!
QuestionI know lying will get me nowhere, but neither will the truth, because the truth doesn't make sense. There are bad consequences either way, what should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerEven though you will have a bad consequence either way, you should tell the truth. This is best for your reputation and your conscience. If necessary, make sure to give a heartfelt apology so the person knows you are serious and telling the truth.Thanks!
QuestionMy teacher caught me playing on my iPad when I wasn't allowed to. What should I do if she emails my parents?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you did so during class and she emails your parents, tell your parents that you are really sorry for doing that, and really mean it. Express that what you did was wrong and that you won't do it again.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I gain the courage to tell the truth?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMake a daily decision to not tell any lies. When you do, the truth will be easier to speak.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do if I said something bad to my mother and I hurt her feelings?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerApologize, give her space, then do something kind for her.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I broke my parent's heart when I was caught cheating and lying after playing a game I wasn't supposed to play, and they said they won't talk to me for the rest of their life?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerEverybody says things they don't necessarily mean when they're angry or upset. It's very unlikely your parents really plan to never speak to you again. If they won't talk to you right now, write a letter to your parents in which you apologize sincerely for what you did and promise never to do it again. If they've given you a punishment, accept this without complaint.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if someone caught me doing something and didn't tell on me, but I'm worried?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf it's someone you know fairly well, just ask them if they plan to tell. You might even be able to convince them not to. If you don't know them, or if they say they're going to tell, just come clean about what you did. Your punishment will probably be less severe if you own up to your mistake.Thanks!
QuestionI am sleeping over at my friend's and her younger sister hates me. I don't want to be rude, but I can't stand her. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJust try to get along with her for your friend's sake. Be pleasant and polite. If her sister does or says something rude, ignore it. You're there to hang out with your friend, don't let her little sister ruin your good time.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if a video tape indicates that I didn't write something down when I should have, and I could lose my job?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAdmit your fault. If you deny it or try to make it less major than it is, the people you work for are more likely to fire you. Give them a reason to keep you, tell them you will accept whatever outcome gracefully. This way, if you are let go, you're more likely to receive a positive recommendation in the future.Thanks!
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