“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start from where you are and change the ending.” Anon
Time for a Little (or a Lot) of Self-Analysis — The Power of Apology and the Power of Speaking Up
A sincere apology requires you to demonstrate how your actions caused hurt or pain to another person. We can all do or say things that we later come to regret — an in-the-moment reaction that can leave us and other people feeling anywhere from slightly uncomfortable to totally destroyed. What we do next to be able to move forward will determine how the story ends.
Jacinta’s Story: A Sincere Apology is Needed to Put Things Right When She Made a Huge Mistake: A Case Study
Jacinta as manager of the business relied on James in the accounting department to provide the numbers she needed to do her job. However, James seemed to enjoy jerking her chain by routinely withholding information.
One day it came to a head when Jacinta needed data from James to complete a report that she needed to email to the CEO ahead of a meeting with the stakeholders the next day. On requesting the data, James told her she’d have to wait a few days for it. It was the final straw for Jacinta. She completely lost it, and in a very threatening tone said to James: “I’d hate to have to tell the CEO that the reason he hasn’t got the information he needs for his proposal is because it got stalled on your desk. You better have the information on my desk first thing in the morning, or there will be consequences.” And with that Jacinta stormed off, banging the door behind her.
The next morning there was still no report from James. Instead, she had an email from HR requesting an urgent meeting. During this Helen, the HR director, let Jacinta know that her remark to James could be considered as a threat to a co-worker. She had implied in what she said that his job could be at risk if he didn’t deliver the report — and that this was, in effect, harassment. Helen strongly suggested an apology to James would help her avoid any unintended consequences.
Although Jacinta was taken aback by what Helen said, she recognised immediately that she had made a huge mistake, and to put it right she needed to swallow her pride and arrange a meeting immediately with James. During this Jacinta apologised for using her position to pressure him. She went on to thank him for the work he did every day, letting him know that she knew he had a lot of conflicting priorities and that she now recognised that she had tried to muscle her way in to the top of the pile. She finished by saying she was sorry she did that, and that it wouldn’t happen again.
James got the information to Jacinta later that morning. From that moment on, they worked together in a cooperative and collaborative way. Both were respectful of each other’s workloads and needs, and were able to work effectively and efficiently.
Develop Your WorkLife Story Chapters
We’re all capable of not acting in the best way on our own or someone else’s behalf, consciously or unconsciously. In Jacinta’s story, in recognising she needed to apologise, she also recognised that speaking up can be hard; and she also recognised that the repercussions of not speaking up can be harder.
A quote about the importance of speaking up when you’ve been on the giving or receiving end of an experience that had a negative impact on one or both parties. From The One Minute Apology: “At the very least, you’d be feeling better today if you had been completely honest with yourself.”
Jacinta’s story is one of the stories featured in my book: How To Apologise With Humility Sincerity And Integrity, from The School Of WorkLife Book Series.
The stories I write are based on real WorkLife challenges, obstacles and successes. In some stories I share my own experiences, and with permission stories of people I’ve worked with, whose names have been changed to protect their anonymity. Other persons and companies portrayed in the stories are not based on real people or entities.