Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift. – Margaret Lee Runbeck
It doesn’t have to be the hardest word.
I was surprised by a recent news item noting Ohio’s Governor John Kasich had issued an apology to a local newspaper. He had called their reporting about some state-wide information “fake news.” Thing is, this report was based on figures released by his department. When corrected numbers were issued by that same department, and reported in the newspaper. Governor Kasich called the editor to say “I’m sorry.”
This made me realize two things:
- I was impressed any public figure would admit an error.
- I fully expect to issue my own (or receive) an apology when warranted.
Apologizing, to me, is a courtesy. It is behavior I think underscores a respect for myself and for every other team member. I expect it of myself and I expect it from my teammates.
But the anecdotal story about Ohio’s governor also made me think that apologies too often are not offered. It feels like we have lost the fine art of admitting a mistake and apologizing.
Errors happen. Misunderstandings occur. We misread things. We miss a typo, send a report late, think a team member has not followed up, believe something later proven to be wrong, simply did it wrong. Or forgot. In those instances, I think an apology is appropriate and necessary – for me and the person to whom I’m apologizing. It is not about citing an excuse but rather stating what is: I got it wrong.
There is nothing demeaning about confessing an error. There is everything empowering, though, in admitting a goof. Apologies do not make you weak. Rather, the act of saying “I’m sorry” requires tremendous strength. And, the person on the receiving end of an apology deserves to know that the thing or act has been acknowledged and rectified. There is accountability in admitting when someone else was correct or you were not.
This is the kind of communication that helps build stronger teams.
It can be difficult to have these conversations because too often we value only being “right.” And being “right” means someone else is “wrong.” However, I encourage all of us to remember that growth comes from learning, and learning can come from being wrong as well as being right. The library (and internet) is full of quotes about achieving success because of mistakes made.
Think of your own errors as an opportunity to grow. Admit to your team when you are wrong. It shows you’re human, and that you respect yourself and them.
Post written by Lori E. Green, who is director of relationship marketing at Facilitator on Fire, and a freelance fundraising and donor relations consultant. Many organizations and teams have relied on Lori for both her moral compass and communication skills to keep them on the right track.
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Has an apology helped your team? Do you want to know how you can build a team that communicates better? Tell us about it! Leave a comment below or email Lori@FacilitatorOnFire.net. We pledge to provide you with insight and solutions to help your team to better align and create success for your business!
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