Lately, I’ve been saying “I’m Sorry” a lot more than usual. Oddly enough, it feels liberating!
Getting to those two words is not so easy though. Usually it starts with something not turning out the way I expected. It’s like an internal barometer tugging away at me when I have done something that doesn’t fit my values or beliefs. At first, it manifests as a guilty feeling or tightness in my shoulders. My mind replays the tape of what happened over and over again like an annoying song that you can’t get out of your head. This type of obsessive tendency finally gets me to notice, “Wait, this is something I need to pay attention to.”
I liken it to a confused signal that needs tuning. This is when I take my pen to journal to write down my thoughts. 9 times out of 10, I have tremendous insights as I explore what contributed to my state. There is no rocket science to this one, all to say, I write down my deepest fears and concerns and get curious. Then I ask myself the hard question, what do I need to admit to myself or someone else that hasn’t been said? At this point, I feel my anxiety go up again but it forces me to recalibrate, own my mistake and just be real.
Last night as I was watching the 59th annual Grammys, I loved the moment that Adele stopped her rendition of George Michael’s Fast Love to reset and sing in the right key. Here’s a perfectionist who owned her mistake with a few swear words because she knew she was off key. Adele didn’t let pride get in her way. I think we loved her more for it because the performance afterwards was spectacular!
Let’s break down the BENEFITS of saying “I’m Sorry”. These simple words:
· Eliminate the need for blame, even if the other party has contributed to the outcome
· Even out the playing field
· Show that we are ALL human
· Encourage OWNERSHIP
· BUILD TRUST with others who may feel like they can lower their guards too
· Strengthen CONNECTION when we can laugh at our mistakes and not make it about the other person
· Encourage a deeper dialogue about things that really matter.
This last point makes the risk I take by saying “I’m Sorry” worth it every time.
Let's take it one step further, what if we bring these magic words into the workplace, what could be possible?
As managers, we often expect these words to come from our employees when they don't meet our expectations. Right? I invite you to turn the tables and imagine what difference it could make if you admitted:
- Not giving clear direction or instructions
- Giving recognition only to certain individuals and not others
- Focusing only on what's wrong and not working
- Not being available to staff who need extra assistance
- Jumping to conclusions or making assumptions without the facts
If we want to experience the magic behind these simple two words and their impact in our workplaces, consider this:
What will it take for YOU to say these magic words more often?