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Dear Dawn… Really Sorry – The Answer

Dear Dawn… Really Sorry – The Answer

Gulf Business’ leadership expert, Dawn Metcalfe, answers the seventh question in the series.

After another week of discussion and comments the Gulf Business agony aunt Dawn Metcalfe gives her expert opinion on the latest question in the series.

The query last week was:

Dear Dawn,

I recently made an ill-advised (and quite mean) comment to a colleague behind another colleague’s back. She got to hear about it and now things are strained in the very small office I share with her. How can I make things better?

Yours,

Really Sorry

And here is Dawn’s expert opinion:

Dear Really Sorry,

Conventional wisdom tell us to never do, say or write anything down that you wouldn’t want to read on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper. With social media this may be even more important than before. You don’t give much detail about what you said so it’s hard to know if the comment was fairly minor e.g. “isn’t it annoying how Ms X always uses her BB during meetings” or rather more egregious e.g. calling into question her integrity or morals. On the plus side you didn’t write anything down and so at least the damage is somewhat limited. On the minus side you have put at risk your relationship with a co-worker and now need to deal with that.

I’m afraid I have to disagree with one of your fellow readers, facebook-1607327005, as (s)he seems to be suggesting that you pretend it hasn’t happened and, in fact, lie. Instead I’m going to agree with SG (although I may not be as convinced of the power of buns!).

When yon’ve made a mistake and done something that has hurt another person don’t ignore it or hope it goes away. Acknowledge what you said or wrote and say how sorry you are for what you did. Be honest and don’t try to sneak by saying something like “I apologise if I’ve caused offence”. Offer some sincere reflection and ask what you can do to regain trust. Look for opportunities to do this and be as public in this as you were in your original statement.

In spite of all the lessons you’ve learned as a result of this, it is human nature to talk about others and you may even do it again in the future. If not that, then you may end up on the receiving end of someone else’s unintended candour.

In that case, remember that, if someone has the capacity to hurt you then you probably know them fairly well. Try to put what they have done in context – is the offence really worthwhile ruining a relationship that must have had some positives? Consider, too, the future and why you have a relationship with the person in the first place – are your mutual interests sufficiently strong to put the incident behind you? Remember that they’re a human being and so likely to make mistakes occasionally, like you!

Good luck,

Dawn

The next professional query for week eight is now live and open for comment and debate. Follow the link here to participate.

Send your questions for Dawn anonymously to [email protected] and see them answered here next time.

Dawn Metcalfe is the managing director of Performance Development Services (PDS). Find out more at www.performancedevelopmentservices.com

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