Apology in the work place

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
An apology to some people is a game of words, to some apology is always in the planning stages and they never get around to actually saying it. To another an apology is always so suppressed that they can't get it out, others their apology is never whole. Others whisper their apology so quietly it is never heard. And there those who will never apologize unless the other person apologizes too. Some people are separated by just one apology others are united by just one apology, some say sorry so many times its hard to know when they mean it. For others sorry is part of a strategic plan. To some sorry opens locked doors. Some people have to have their apology squeezed out with force. For others sorry lifts their spirits and carries them far. www.aish.com/videos

Submitted: September 14, 2007

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Submitted: September 14, 2007

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An apology to some people is a game of words, to some apology is always in the planning stages and they never get around to actually saying it. To another an apology is always so suppressed that they can't get it out, others their apology is never whole. Others whisper their apology so quietly it is never heard. And there those who will never apologize unless the other person apologizes tooSome people are separated by just one apology others are united by just one apology, some say sorry so many times its hard to know when they mean it. For others sorry is part of a strategic plan. To some sorry opens locked doors. Some people have to have their apology squeezed out with force. For others sorry lifts their spirits and carries them far. www.aish.com/videos

The apology is an act that is neither about problem-solving or finding the middle ground nor about finding a resolution. Rather, it is a form of ceremonial exchange between both parties, where words are said that allow reconciliation. The apology represents an opportunity for acknowledgement that may transform relations. A sincere apology is often the key to the resolution of a conflict: an apology is a symbol of forgiveness.

In the workplace disagreements are akin to happen. It is almost inevitable that you will say or do something that will rub off on your workmate the wrong way. But there are certain characters in the office who will never admit of being guilty of doing anything wrong for example. There is the project officer who never apologizes whenever he makes decisions that lead his team member's projects to fail. But what does he do instead of apologizing he comes up with all sort of excuses of why the project did not work out to the boss's expectations. His excuses in fact also list the members of the team as been the reason why things did not work out. When it is quite obvious his decisions made as an individual led to the failure.  

The guy seems allergic to the word that would have solved all the emotions that are now flying left right and center. It is as if he is being asked to part with a valuable possession. Or there is a limit to the number of times one can say the word. It is not that the person is unwilling to apologize it is his attitude towards working colleagues - what will be their working relationship after this apology. What about the boss - will he have the confidence he had in me before this incident happened. The person's own self image affects his unwillingness to apologize.  This leaves the team mates talking behind his back and the boss avoiding the persons idle chit chats at the water dispenser. Tension reaches a high red alert with everyone avoiding confrontation with the unapologetic fellow.

Dealing with the situation

This kind of situation can be handled only if both parties realize that the only way to handle the situation is to handle the unapologetic individual's insecurity or pride in a non - threatening way and also help them to recognize his uncomfortable behavior pattern and its effect on the harmony in the workplace.

Unwillingness to say the five letter word does reflect our inability to take responsibility for our actions which means that our boss and team members start wondering what kind of values we endear to.

Company values

As a leader in an organization it is important to ensure that your organization progresses on without having unforgiveness being a dead weight pulling the organization down. By ignoring the tension between the employees and you as an employer will not enhance the future of the organization. Sometimes confronting the unapologetic fellow is the only way to handle a tense situation that is causing unproductivity in the workplace.

 

 Too many organizations use their appraisal schemes and their confidential files to record our errors and our small disasters.  They use them to chastise us with, hoping to inspire us or to frighten us to do better. 

 

If your confronting aims at punishing the offender, or if it is simply a means of castigation and censure, then you are confronting with the wrong aim in mind.  The goal of all honest confrontation is the repair of a broken relationship and the restoration of the offender. 

 

How you handle offense as a leader in organization reflects the kind of values you hold dear to yourself. Avoid making an apology for something that is not your fault. This makes your colleagues feel that your apology is not genuine, especially if you over use the word sorry. It tends to make your sorry lose its impact. This is especially common among women managers. According to Connie Glaser an American motivation speaker and expert on the communication between men and woman in the world of business. Women tend to apologize much more frequently than men do. "Between women, apology are more of a ritual than it is a literal kind of communication", says Glaser. "Men look at an apology in terms of hierarchy. If you apologize, you subdue."She also adds that, "when women say, "I'm sorry," they're often told, "Don't apologize; it's not your fault." But typically, they're not apologizing for having done something wrong, but rather feeling sorry that something happened. By all means, apologize if you've done something wrong. But women need to monitor themselves for constant apologies, as men perceive it as a sign of lacking confidence and competence."

Why people make apologies

When it is politically correct to do so to avoid offending people higher on the corporate food chain. Apologies can also be a way of getting rid of a problem - "I'm not wrong, but it's more emotionally practical to apologize than fight, this is especially common among the married.

Because you were told to by those around you with more power to force you into resolving a conflict. This can be equated with the parental "Now shake hands or hug and say you're sorry".  

The sincere apology - which doesn't have to be taught, learned, structured or administered, comes from the heart of someone who recognizes they have truly offended or harmed someone and genuinely wants to make amends and make things work.

The views people hold of the meaning of apologizing

In life different people define each situation and action differently and it is no exception when it comes to apologizing. There are two reasons people apologize. First, people usually apologize to make themselves feel better. This type of apology requires little skill outside of being willing to admit that you made a mistake. The second type of apology relays a genuine concern for the other persons feelings and well being.

Your guilt is relieved only when your apology is genuine and based on empathy for the injured person. This type of apology heals relationships and creates genuine bonds.

A person who will rarely offer an apology may view making an apology an acceptance of blame and to make an admission of having made a mistake or error of judgment. Most of such individuals only give an apology early in a conflict where objective facts make it difficult for them to deny responsibility.

Others believe an apology is an expression of emotional acceptance and understanding of the (possibly minor or unavoidable) role they played in the misfortunes of another. These people will give an apology when their actions have hurt another person or a community even though they believe their actions were appropriate. The harm may have been unintentional or may have been unavoidable. Their apology always has the word ‘but' immediately after the word ‘sorry'.  "But" is followed by an explanation of why the person apologizing feels that what one did was correct or justified. The apology also takes on the ‘it was because I was going through this or that situation and eventually highlights the other person weaknesses. The apology usually goes on like this "I apologize. But I didn't do it on purpose. I had a hard day and I didn't realize what I was doing. And why are you so sensitive about this, anyway!?"

This person has verbalized an "apology," but it is hollow because they have no regret. They really feel "it's not my fault and I didn't do anything wrong."

The type of apology not only fails to appease the person who was hurt, it actually makes things worse. Why? Because this "apology" is in effect saying: "The fact that my actions were hurtful to you is not really my problem. And since I don't regret my actions, I will not make an effort to change them. Therefore if a similar circumstance occurs in the future, I would do the same thing and hurt you again!"

What came under the guise of an "apology" actually turns into a great insult.

Still others will offer an apology or expression of sorrow to show that they share, at an emotional level, care, sympathy and concern for the hurt person or community. Such an expression of sympathy has nothing to do with responsibility for the fault committed whatsoever. An example would be "am sorry that you feel so bad about what happened"

Which elements should be included in an apology

Apologizing can be a difficult, humbling experience. We may feel vulnerable, low and bad. But it is important to the offended party that they perceive us as being honest and sincere.

As human beings, we all make mistakes. It's impossible not to make a mistake. Most people struggle to be present in their lives, let alone stay aware of every one else's feelings at any given moment. In order to make a real apology, we must come to grips with the fact that we make mistakes. If you would like to have long term relationships, you must learn to make real apologies. The major difference between a "feel good" apology and a real apology is that a real apology begins and ends with the person you have injured where as the "feel good" apology is about the person who made the mistake.

If you are apologizing to relieve your guilt, and hopefully get someone off your back, stop before you open your mouth. Relieve your guilt through talking to a good friend, therapist or priest. Tell someone who really cares about you. Don't bother telling the person you have injured. You only make things worse. Why? Because the person you injured doesn't really care why you did something. They don't want to hear that "kids are so mean" or "I was completely lost". By laying out all of the reasons, and defenses, for why you injured them, you are subtly saying that it's not your fault and that the other person should take care of you by telling you that "you're OK". You belittle them and humiliate yourself this way.

The longer you talk before you say you're sorry, the greater the risk that the offended party won't believe that you really are. So always apologize as soon as possible when you realize your mistakes.

Why saying sorry is not enough

After saying sorry make an effort of explaining that you understand how your action inconvenienced the other person and your resolution not to repeat the action again in the future. As long as it's not overused, apologizing with a little self-deprecating humor can prevent some of the burden that may come from this valuable act of contrition.  Another way to accomplish this is to make a joke, at your own expense of course, about what happened. Proceed down this path with caution, however; you can make things worse if they think you aren't taking the apology seriously. On the other hand, a little self-deprecating humor can go a long way toward allowing you to work together comfortably in the future.

 It is also important to avoid the word ‘but' when apologizing and instead it is best to say, "I am sorry because"-followed by something that makes it clear that the person who is apologizing understands why the offended party should receive an apology.

When you take full responsibility for your wrongdoing, by a simple statement saying "I am sorry." may help build the trust. This is particularly true if there is a story of good relationship with the offender; in most cases however, it will be insufficient.

That is why it is also important to define exactly what you are apologizing for. Acknowledging the problems that were caused by your actions shows the offended party that you really understand the problems you created for them. This can be quite painful, but it should make a huge difference in how the person you are apologizing to feels about your apology. You don't have to go into agonizing detail, just say enough to show them that you tried to see it all through their eyes. For example, "I should have finished my bit of the group work before I left for that business trip. I understand it made you and the whole team lags behind as you had to finish my work for me. The acknowledgement should not be judgmental, as it would undermine the sincerity of the apology. Avoid highlighting the other person's weaknesses for example, "I'm sorry you're so sensitive". Better to look at yourself and realize that you are the one who was wrong for example by saying "I was insensitive." or "I was wrong." may help.

Most offended people will appreciate the efforts made by the offender to explore how one's actions caused a negative outcome. This will often be perceived as an indication of sincerity of regret for the outcome.

Future intentions

The offended party will also appreciate to know whether the offender intends to avoid committing such a mistake again. Demonstrate by your actions that you learned from the situation. Let the person know you won't repeat the error by telling them exactly what you'll do to keep it from happening again. For example, "From now on I'll ask your opinion before I agree to sign a contract with another organization".

Think back to a time you apologized. How do you feel afterwards? Getting it out is an open, liberating, healing release. We cleanse the stain and recapture that lost relationship. We rectify the past and move forward.

 

 


© Copyright 2020 Esther Kariuki. All rights reserved.

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