When I was growing up my parents used to say we all make mistakes it’s what we do about them that is important! I have to say, I didn’t really know what this meant at the time.
However, as I’ve grown up, I’ve learnt that it is how you deal with your mistakes that matter not the fact that you’ve made them in the first place. Making mistakes is how we learn and how we grow so they are an important part in our development (and yes we do constantly learn and develop).
So today I had first hand experience of how not to deal with a mistake, I had a medical appointment with my daughter, we sat there for over half an hour waiting to be seen, eventually I asked the receptionist if there was a delay and she went to enquire. Sure enough, she came back and said there was ‘a delay’ but she didn’t know anymore about it we would just have to wait. Before that point I was fairly relaxed about the whole thing, but her off-hand manner made me quite cross, she’d given me no information about how long it was going to take or why we were being asked to wait. Eventually we were seen and an explanation was given, there had been a mistake, we were on a list that had been missed and she apologised. So it was fine, I was no longer cross, the matter had been resolved. Mistakes happen, but had we been told this, I would have maybe gone to the nearby cafe until they had sorted it. The important thing is, I would have understood their position ~ we are all human and mistakes happen. I then could have responded appropriately and sorted it out, I certainly wouldn’t have been as annoyed as I was.
But how often do we not deal with our mistakes? We try to brush over them (like the receptionist), hide them, explain them as not being mistakes at all, blame other people instead of just admitting ~ I made a mistake! It’s so much easier to deal with and more importantly honesty quite often takes the wind out of the other persons sails! Think about it, when someone confesses a mistake to you and apologises how often do you feel completely disarmed? In fact how many times have you said, ‘that’s ok don’t worry!’ in response. On the whole, we do naturally feel compassion towards the other person when a mistake has been made and they admit it and if we don’t the frustration we feel or if we are feeling cross lasts a lot less than it does when someone is refusing to accept their responsibility.
When a mistake has been freely admitted, it’s so much easier to find a solution and move on and in many cases reflect on why it happened so that a repeat can be avoided. This is because both parties are working towards a similar goal ~ resolution and also any feelings of frustration or anger are less than when both have different goals ~ one wanting to prove the other is at fault and the other party trying to avoid being blamed, when emotions can also run very high.
So saying ‘I’m sorry’ isn’t just a couple of words, it can change a whole situation from a negative situation to one of a positive outcome. So the next time you do something that you know you should apologise for, give it a try and see what happens, you might be pleasantly surprised.