Most of us have been taught to apologize when we misstep or make a mistake. While it is a very mature skill to admit when we are wrong or have negatively impacted someone’s day, we all need to be careful of falling into an apologetic mindset. There is politeness, and then there are apologies that can stall the positive momentum of all involved. Sometimes, it can be beneficial to think of these as opportunities to identify a moment of personal growth. Consider the following three situations where responding with “thank you” may be a better idea than saying “I’m sorry”:
Apologies in Our Emails: When corresponding with someone, whether it’s a professional or personal setting, reconsider taking up space in the email with an apology. You may have taken a little too long to get back to the person, or the person may be presenting issues that, whether you are responsible for them or not, need to be solved. While an apology may be in order, also consider focusing your message on the next positive action or change at hand. Thank the person for the advice they have offered you or for drawing your attention to the issue that needs solving. Then lay out a plan for next steps. It is a good idea to maintain positive momentum when collaborating or corresponding. This displays confidence on your part and makes the person on the receiving end more willing and optimistic in terms of what happens next!
Corrections and Feedback: When we are told we have made a mistake, or receive feedback about a way we can improve, our first impulse may be to apologize for our action. If you feel that the person you are communicating with is waiting for an apology, give one, but keep it brief and focused on the positive next step that you will take.
Thank the person for their feedback. Then take this chance to identify a behavior or habit of yours that you might benefit from improving. A continuous attitude of growth and humility, especially when shared with others through gratitude, will help us become the best, most productive version of ourselves. Too much time spent apologizing may actually work against you. It may make the person hesitant to share feedback in the future or cast negative energy on the next phase of the interaction. By your openness to input and change, you’re putting forth the effort necessary to make the interaction as effective as possible.
Apologizing to Yourself: It’s easy to get trapped in feelings of regret or embarrassment after we’ve done something worth apologizing for. Many of us feel guilty, even for things that are in no way our fault! If possible, develop a sense of humor, or at least a sense of acceptance, about the idea that you are not perfect. What you are is malleable. You want to focus on molding yourself into the best version of yourself possible, and this is a work-in-progress. Challenge yourself to make a habit of taking lessons away from everything that you want to apologize for. Reflect on what you can fix, and what positive steps you can take to get there. Think of yourself as an active change-maker, instead of someone who should linger on their negative feelings about themselves.
Interested in learning more ways to grow, personally, professionally, or financially? Visit the Syncis blog at www.syncis.com/blog/.