Sunday, March 25, 2012

#12: If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

A few weeks ago, I made a mental note, "I have to write about this story in Week 12!"  So here it goes:
  • The setting: A Dale Carnegie class (the graduation ceremony to boot!)
  • The situation: When introducting a graduate, I incorrectly stated her organization's name
  • My first response: I made an excuse for my error (*whammy noise here*)
  • My next response: Principle #12 to the rescue!  I quickly had individual conversations with three people in the room who were a part of the organization I misnamed.  I genuinely apologized for my mistake to each of them and promised to do better in the future.
  • The end result: The three individuals each insisted my statement wasn't a big deal, told me it was an easy mistake to make, etc. I felt better and I'm sure they felt better knowing that I cared enough to own up to my mistake.

In the future, I hope to eliminate my first response and move right into Principle #12.  No excuses! When focusing on Principle #12 this week, I noticed that I do have a tendency to preface my apologies with excuses.  To my husband, Alan, "I'm sorry I snapped at you but I was really tired..."  To a colleague, "I apologize for not sending you the webinar instructions but I sent them to IT..." In Dale Carnegie, we talk about how using the word "but" negates anything else that follows.  In other words, my apologies weren't really apologies at all (especially to the listeners' ears).

Going forward, I plan to work on eliminating excuses in my apologies.  I think it's idealistic to say that excuses will no longer cross my mind.  Rather, I am hoping to treat them like the silent letters that occur in the spelling of some words.  They may be there but they are not spoken.  No excuses. No justifications. No reasoning.  Just, "I am sorry."  Three of the most underused words in our language -- and probably three of the most valuable, too.

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