The Agony of I’m Sorry

Today’s Wall Street Journal had a front page story entitled “U.S. Agonizes Over Apology to Pakistan.” Six months ago “U.S. led forces accidentally killed two dozen Pakistani troops at the Afghanistan  boarder.” Because of politics, the strong aversion to looking weak, and the general stickiness of middle-eastern diplomacy, the U.S. has struggled with how best – if at all – to come out and say “we’re sorry.”

This is not a political blog; it’s an HR Blog, a Talent Management Blog, a Business Blog, a Workplace Blog, a Human Blog. And I don’t know about you level-headed citizens of the world, but rarely has anything bad come from saying “I’m sorry.” In fact, those two words might very well be the most powerful. They are easily wielded. They don’t ring of weakness; they resound of strength. The ability to admit a mistake, a fault, or a wrong-doing – intentional or otherwise – demonstrates a maturity that is all to often missing from the workplace. And instead of those two simple words, we’re subjected to the unproductive time-suck of back-tracking, spin, finger-pointing, shoulder-shrugging, blah blah blahing. My kindergartner has more maturity than what I’ve witnessed as countless adults have agonized over how best to mend fences, manage conflict, or deliver bad news at work.

Stop agonizing. Say the words…say them with me: “I’m Sorry.” That’s it. Now move on.

Image Credit: ∞PinkFarasha.Busy!

  • Tom Bolt

    Holding on to your “I’m Sorry” until it’s too late is a cancer eating away at you. Holding on to an “I Forgive” is just as dangerous.

  • hrfishbowl

    you’re absolutely right, tom. thanks for putting the capstone on this one…

  • Marta Steele

    Great post. We all need this reminder.
    Fear of retribution, fear of losing face, fear of no one having your back is powerful stuff.