Refusing to express regret
Expressing regret, apologising, is a cleansing ritual, like confession in a church. You say “I’m sorry and you feel better”. That’s the theory, at least, yet like many things, they are fine theory- yet hard for many of us to do so.
Perhaps we think
- Apologising means we have lost a contest — successful people have a practically irrational need to win everything, anything at any cost.
- Painful to admit we were wrong — we rarely have to apologize for being right.
- Find it humiliating to seek forgiveness, which suggests subservience.
- Forces us to cede power or control, factually the opposite is true.
Whatever be the reasons, refusing to apologise causes as much ill will in the work/ personal space as any other interpersonal flaw. Just think how bitter you have felt when a friend failed to apologise for hurting you or letting you down. And how long the bitterness festered. If one reflects at his tattered relationships, I suspect many of them began to fray at the precise moment when one of us couldn’t summon the emotional intelligence to say “I’m sorry”.
People who can’t apologise at work may be wearing a T-shirt that reads “I care a damn about you”.
Irony, of course, is that all the fears that lead us to resist apologising, the fear of losing, admitting we are wrong, ceding control, are actually erased by an apology. When I say “I’m sorry”, I turn people into allies, even partners.
Remember to gain a friend, let him do you a favour. And if one imbibes this concept, from being successful now, one would be more successful in future. Apologise face-to-face — to all whom we have wronged, and be ready to witness a miraculous transformation in them.
Apologising is one of the most potent and resonant gestures in the human arsenal, almost as powerful as declaration of love. It’s “I love you” flipped on its head. If love means “I care about you” and “I’m happy about it”, then apology means “I hurt you, I regret sincerely”.
Either way, its seductive, irresistible, it irrevocably changes the relationship amongst them, compelling them to move forward into something new and perhaps, wonderful together.
The amusing thing about apologising is that forces everyone to let go of the past. In effect, one is saying ‘ I can’t change the past; all I can say is that I regret my action/intent, and I will certainly to better in future. There is no excuse I offer and I look forward to your suggestion on how I can improve.
This statement — an admission of guilt, an apology, and a plea for help, is tough for even the most cold hearted amongst us to resist. And when one employs it across spectrum, it has an alchemical effect on how they feel about you and themselves.
I initiate the first step of apologising. Magic happens instantly — most will respond by saying “we can get better together”. When one declares his dependence on others, usually they reciprocate. And during the course of making me a better person, they inevitably try to become better people themselves. This is how individuals change, how teams improve, how divisions grow, how organisations become world beaters.
I endeavoured this with, at least, three of my disconnects in the last 30 days — wrote an sincere apology of committing wrong and was amused that two responded instantly, sharing that they felt the same and now together we can create a better relating.
It was easy — very easy — made I lighter in my being, and I was amused that why I was carrying this burden for long. The only thing that stopped me was myself.
One step and it was all over — all smoke vanished and a clear sky was witnessed.
Your call now folks!
The author is an executive coach and mentor, Excalibre