Apologies Along the Way

Apologies Help Us Climb the Ladder

It happens to all of us at one time or another; we miss appointments, forget commitments, or make promises we can’t keep.

CC image courtesy of Matt Elsberry, “Rope and Dowel ladder”: http://www.flickr.com/photos/matt_elsberry/4385892743/

Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control, and sometimes, for any number of reasons, we abrogate our responsibility to others.

What do you do when you are the offending party? That depends on who you are.  Are you a person who feels guilty for having broken promises, wasted someone’s time or let someone down in some way?  If you are, congratulations!  It means you have a conscience, and a conscience is a critical character trait to help you achieve success, both in business, and in life.

When you hold yourself personally responsible for your actions, you can take the credit for your own achievements, but more than that, you have the ability to determine the quality of your life.

Recently I asked a new business contact for an introduction to someone whom I wanted to meet.  That contact very kindly made the connection in a professional and courteous way.  So far so good, right?

Well, sometimes things blow up, and unfortunately for me, I was called to help a friend who had a crisis and needed immediate assistance.  Naturally, all thoughts of a low-key business conversation blew out of my mind and it wasn’t until the situation had been rectified that I realized I had missed an appointment for a phone conversation with someone I very much wanted to meet.

What were my options in that situation?

  1.  I could have blown both contacts off and moved on;
  2.  I could contact both people and apologize and reschedule the call.

Obviously option one is a dead end, but option 2 turns out to be rewarding.

Writing letters of apology or apologizing in person are both uncomfortable activities, but success and satisfaction have to be earned. Dealing with uncomfortable situations is the way we earn both self-respect, and the respect of others (I’ve never been a fan of “self-esteem” because it does not appear to me to have that element of being earned.)

These are the surprising, and powerful, benefits that turned up from taking that uncomfortable step:

  1. Both people very graciously forgave me.
  2. They saw that I take responsibility seriously.
  3. They saw that respect them and their time.
  4. The delayed conversation and developing relationship were not lost.
  5. I have the distinct pleasure of feeling gratitude to them for giving me a second chance, and to the universe for providing me with the ability to feel gratitude.

What could be better than that?!  All successful relationships, no matter their context, can only be based on foundations of mutual trust and respect.  When we treat clients, vendors, friends and family with respect and gratitude, we help one another climb the ladder to success.