Just Own-Up

Just Own-Up

You want to gain respect and higher standing? Just apologize when you mess up. It is so simple but so few people seem willing to do it.

It seems that examples abound. For sake of ease, I will share with you one of the latest examples in my life. I have a business relationship with a man who agreed to help me with an issue. At first, it seemed that he hesitated about taking on the job but then agreed. We were on the phone together for this highly frustrating task. I think we spent about four hours that first Friday afternoon. Then we came to some technical roadblocks of which neither of us had answers.

As we decided to call it a day, he said he would place a call on the following Tuesday and find the answers for our roadblocks. He would update me that afternoon on what he found. I never received a call that Tuesday. I presumed he was having a challenge getting in touch with the right person. Without hearing from him I emailed him four days later for an update. No response.

Seven days later I still had not heard from him and sent him another email. No response. A couple days after that last email I sent him yet another email. In that email, I thanked him for his prior work and clearly told him that I needed him to respond to my outreach efforts. No response.

A day went by and then I got finally received an email from him, “hey give me a call when you get a chance”. I did so immediately only to find him projecting a jovial mood and talking about the weather. He then directly started to talk about the issue we had worked on. Later in that conversation, I discovered that he had never made that call some two weeks before. During this phone call, he was now somehow able to kick start where we had been stalled. Admittedly, in this current conversation, he was quite helpful.

The amazing thing is that he never once made the slightest apology for, either not following up on his original commitment or his lack of communication with me. The thing is, if he simply would have offered a simple apology I would have been just fine. But with his dodging the issue, I lost, rather than gained, respect for him.

Why do you think we find it so hard to admit our mistakes? Is it about a distorted self-perception regarding our inner shame, learned in our early years? Or do we not admit our mistakes because we somehow believe people will think less of us if we own-up. My experience is quite the opposite, I respect people much more when they just own-up. What do you think?

Tim Berry

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