Do you mean it when you say “I’m sorry!”?

do you mean it when you say i'm sorry

I’m finding myself reflecting on the changes inherent in autumn – what is growing, and what is ending. And this makes me think about how you can help those around you during times of transition and change.

My daughter has this book about what is the hardest word to say. In it this bird flies all around and tries to find the hardest words for people to say. . . the end to the story is the discovery of the phrase, “I’m sorry.”

However, if you’ve ever been around fighting kids and then require them to apologize to each other – you’ll see kids muttering “I’m sorry” to each other and walking off believing it was all the other kid’s fault.

Turns out this happens at work too. . .

Have you ever pointed out mistakes or disappointments in a deliverable you just received, only to find out later your direct report was complaining that you were unclear and it wasn’t their fault? Alternatively, have you ever apologized for a misunderstanding with a colleague, all the time believing you actually were in the right, but it was time to be the bigger person and ” just move on.”

Communication is more than just what you say. It’s can be easy or hard, depending on who you are, to say you’re sorry. But what’s next? How do you “repair” the relationship, or fix what got broken?

Strong communicators don’t just say the words, they stand behind them with their presence and with their actions. Recently I had to opportunity to do some advanced leadership communication training and we focused primarily on the messages your body language is sending during interactions at work. (You can read more about it here) I was moved by the power of this type of powerful communication focus.

So how about you? Do you stand fully behind your words so it’s not just “lip service?”

Jo Ilfeld, PhD

An executive leadership coach, Jo helps C-suite leaders, executives, and high-potential managers develop the flexibility, skill, and frame of mind to meet the challenges of the next five, ten, twenty years…. and beyond. She works with individuals, teams and organizations on four core areas of leadership development. Check out Jo's bio page for more information.

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