Recently I read an article from the Summer edition of the HRINZ (www.hrinz.org.nz) magazine that got me thinking. The article can be found below, it’s titled ‘When sorry seems to be the hardest word’, written by Denise Hartley-Wilkins.
“From a lot of the cases heard there was a common underlying theme, a failure to say ‘Sorry’. What would start as a minor issue, for example the employer/boss says or does something that upsets the employee, then escalates in a major dispute or relationship fallout. Both parties dig in their heels, hold their position and don’t acknowledge the other person’s viewpoint. Pride, ego and emotion get in the way of intellect. It becomes a ‘win’ battle that may end up in the ERA, costs thousands of dollars and causes significant psychological impact. All over a failure to acknowledge the other person and being open enough to say ‘Sorry’.”
A simple five letter word that can mean so much to someone, can often be so hard to say.
I can remember as a child an apology was a basic reaction to any mistake made. And I certainly still see that happening now with children (and not just mine!), when a child says something hurtful, makes a mistake, or simple does something wrong in the eyes of others, they’re taught to immediately say ‘sorry’. Do they say ‘sorry’ because they understand why they’re saying sorry, or does it just become the automatic response to defuse the situation?
Fast forward into our adult lives and our work situations. It’s often easy to place the blame on someone else, make excuses or avoid the situation at hand. But when and why does the word ‘sorry’ become so hard to say? Is it in our belief system that it’s a sign of weakness? Or maybe we don’t recognise that we’ve made a mistake? Are we not taking accountability for our actions?
I challenge you now to reflect on the simple five letter word ‘sorry’. When have you been in a work situation that has escalated when it could have been diffused if someone just said a sincere ‘sorry’? An apology cannot undo what has been done, but as quoted in the article:
“The bottom line is that we need to be prepared to say ‘Sorry’. A sincere, heartfelt apology that will mend a broken relationship and pave the way to a brighter future.”