Making Amends – A Sure-Fire Cure for Offensive Behavior
by Tim Sharp
I thought I would have learned all of life’s lessons when I became a man: what to say, what not to say, when to walk away. But lessons still come my way because sadly I still make plenty of mistakes.
I really hate lessons.
The message hit home as a couple people immediately came to mind who needed to hear from me.
It took a while but I accepted the challenge. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done.
The root of my offense was speaking badly about two people behind their backs. I could justify my lashing out but that doesn’t excuse me. I phoned the subjects of my gossip. One accepted the apology, the other hung up.
I’m told I’ve done my part and my debt is paid so I no longer feel any obligation in the matter. But I did learn a lesson: not to talk about others.
The bigger lesson was that apologies are painful and if every time I offended someone I had to hold my hat in my hand and say I’m sorry – I would think harder before opening my mouth.
Words are so easy to speak.
Yes, it’s true people can be difficult and the one who refused my apology was a really difficult person at that time – but years later I’m told he changed dramatically for the better. The problem was I was not willing to give him a break. But regardless of his change, I was prepositionally challenged: It was wrong of me to speak “about” him rather than “to” him. It was the coward’s way out and it was wrong.
Teams are often damaged or destroyed through bad-mouthing co-workers. How hurt would you be to walk in on a conversation about you? That’s exactly how your target of opportunity would feel.
The next time you’re tempted to unburden about someone else think about that. Or think about the pain of having to apologize for your misplaced words.