How many times have you made a mistake? How many times have you said something and when it was all said and done, you realized you just said “too much” or you “said it mean”. I think if we are all honest with ourselves, we can all say we have done it many times. And when we do those things, we often have a sick feeling somewhere inside our soul. Or we at least recognize through some visceral mechanism that the conversation or interaction didn’t go as you would like for it to have.
A while back, I was having a conversation with one of our veterinarians revolving around the Holiday and taking some time off on a certain day when everyone would like to have that same time off. The conversation never got heated, and I won’t go into the full story, but I said some words that were pretty “bitey” directly to him and aimed at him, about the situation. Once the conversation was over, I knew I had gone too far with my words. I hadn’t lived by one of my own values of "say what you mean, mean what you say", but don’t say it mean. I had said it mean.
In another situation, within our veterinary clinic, actions by a team member led to a bad Google review on the internet. In this situation, our team members didn’t handle a tense situation well while we were having a typically busy day madhouse! As we know, those things happen, but it isn’t our mission to make anyone unhappy, and it does happen from time to time. But in this day in age, people would rather go to the internet to make a public complaint rather than speak directly to the business about their complaint. This deal was frustrating on many levels as we hadn’t performed up to our expectations as one aspect, then the customer didn’t perform up to our expectations either by not coming directly to us to visit about their complaint.
In the story above related to our veterinarian, I knew I needed to say “I’m sorry” to him, but it took me a few days to work through my goofy ego to come up with the courage to do so, but I did. I simply told him that the conversation from my end didn’t go as planned, I had attacked the situation too personally, I was wrong for that, and “I’m sorry”. He responded with how it wasn’t a big deal, but I know, deep down, if I hadn’t said I’m sorry to him, I forfeited trust in a very little way that day, but in the end was truly a huge way for him personally. And with those two simple words of I’m sorry, I regained some of that forfeited trust back.
In the second story, after much thought and deliberation with our AMC Leadership team, we decided to meet with this Rockstar team member, discuss what had happened, the Google review, and what could we do to make the most of a situation. And our best answer was to simply be honest with ourselves, own up to our fault of the situation, to tell them we were sorry, and for this team member to make the call to do so.
In business, we often say “You only have one chance.”, to gain or keep a client. And sometimes the same can be said on a personal level. But what I believe, is that if we have the humility to give up our ego and the courage to be real and authentic by admitting our faults or take ownership of our actions, most every decent human being will extend some grace and give us another opportunity.
Saying “I’m sorry” heals. Saying “I’m sorry” builds bridges. Saying “I’m sorry” tears down mountains of hard feelings. So what is it you need to apologize for? Is it to your co-worker, is it to someone you lead, is it to your child or spouse, is it to your best friend, or could it even be to one of your players? I’m sure there is someone you need to. Just do it. Swallow some ego and pride, and do the right thing. Doing so will give you a freeing feeling of fulfillment you haven’t had in quite some time!
PS – One last word, we oftentimes work up the courage to say I’m sorry, but in our heart and mind are doing so expecting the other person to say I’m sorry back. And if you are going to say I’m sorry with this in mind, then don’t say it. Never say I’m sorry expecting that in return. You may think you deserve that response, but you may not get it. Just accept you are saying I’m sorry for your own healing and if you don’t get one in return accept that before you ever have the conversation, otherwise your purpose isn’t fully pure and just.