Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Always apologize

I saw two neat articles on apologizing lately:

The CNN article says apologies include:

1. Full acknowledgment of the offense

2. An explanation

3. Genuine expression of remorse

4. Reparations for damage

The BusinessWeek articles tells what to do if you need to apologize:

Admit your mistake quickly and take personal responsibility for it. Don't say "We made a mistake" when you mean "I made a mistake."

Apologize first to the person you have wronged. That is the person who matters most.

Speak from the heart. An insincere apology is as bad as no apology at all.

Realize that "sorry" is just a word. For that word to be meaningful, you must do your level best to avoid repeating the mistake. This means coming up with a strategy and sticking to it.

Understand that a meaningful apology is a sign of integrity, not weakness. Anyone can blame others, or deny that he or she did anything wrong, or lie about what really happened. Only a strong, self-possessed person can own up to their mistakes, and only such a person commands true respect.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you can't do something well on your own, invite others to work with you on the problem. If the problem is beyond your grasp, consider asking someone else to take it on, if it is appropriate for you to do so.

The other week, I couldn’t find the power cord for my camera. It had somehow evaporated, and I needed it instantly to finish an assignment for a client. I hunted under my desk, all around the walls, any place I could think of. I called my daughter because she’d used my power strip on her recent trip home, but she said she didn’t have it. So I woke up my son and asked him incredulously, “Is it possible you took the power cord for my camera?” Uh, yeah, he said groggily. He had tried to use it “for something.” He found it on his desk and gave it back.

So of course, I blew up. What was he doing in my stuff, etc. I need this for my work, etc. He didn’t respond in kind, but he did leave the house to take the dog for a walk. The door slammed shut as he left.

Okay, I knew pretty quickly that I had overreacted. I knew that no real harm was done, so he didn’t deserve to be yelled at. I was inconvenienced for maybe fifteen minutes. I shouldn’t have yelled.

When he came back, I could tell he was still stressed about it. There was really only one thing to do. I apologized.

It’s weird sometimes as a parent, to find that even though it’s the kid that did the thing that got the angry ball rolling, it may be you that has to apologize. You, as the grownup, have an obligation to live up to your own words about treating others with respect, and if you break that, you need to make up for it no matter what they did to set you off.

No one else has the power to make you behave badly. And if you do behave badly, you need to own up and fix it. There’s a spiritual nature in each of us that demands expression. Every time we diverge from that, we need to come back into alignment somehow. You can’t change the past, but you can bring yourself back into alignment. I think apologizing is one way to realign.


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1 Comments:

At 7/17/2007 01:28:00 PM, Blogger PtCakes said...

Excellent post. Thanks.

 

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