We all make mistakes; we are human after all. The little hiccups we make, help us learn and develop in our personal journeys.
I always encourage those around me not to assume the worst of others. Do not automatically assume people do or say things out of malice. Almost all our mistakes come from unintentional harm or simply ignorance; most people would be horrified to know they had caused harm to others. I write this blog with them in mind.
If someone tells you your words or actions have hurt them, or if you learn it from a bystander, the very first thing to do is to apologize. Say “I am sorry” first and before you dig into the details of your actions, details come later. At this point, the right thing to do is to acknowledge the negative impact your actions have had on someone.
Remember it is never about intent; it is always about the impact regardless of intent. Your intentions might seem harmless to you, they might have come from a good place. But the impact might not match your intentions. It is not the responsibility of others to figure out your intent. You cannot expect them to assume your good intentions based on their knowledge of your history or reputation. Ownership and explanation of your intent is solely on you.
There is power in saying “I am sorry”. It is a misstep to assume by asking for forgiveness, you are giving away power. To the contrary! Saying sorry means:
1. You are mature
2. You have a high level of Emotional Intelligence
3. You are self-aware and care about the impact you have on others
4. You genuinely want to learn
5. Your relationship with others is important to you
When you come to this realization and embrace the power of “I am sorry”, follow the tips below to make sure your apology is authentic:
1. Say it like you mean it, truly
2. Avoid using “but” at all costs. It discredits your acknowledgment of your impact on others and their feelings
3. Do not justify your action or defend yourself. By all means, explain your intent but never justify its impact
4. Ask for suggestions to make things better
5. Encourage feedback and let others know you are open to feedback because you want to improve