I recently hurt somebody’s feelings, implied she wasn’t doing her best, and that the results were unacceptable. I wish I could explain away these harsh sentiments, wish I could say I was righteously justified. But…. nope. There was no need to couch the situation as I did.
I think what made my comments so painful to hear was that all I focused on was the mistake. In other words, even if this person worked long and hard on my behalf, had the best intentions, and did an excellent job in many areas, none of that mattered. “You let me down,” I implied, “and there’s no excuse for that.”
There’s always an excuse for stumbling–we’re human. We forget, we get tired, we miss things. Our best efforts may be bumbling, haphazard, anxious, or ambiguous. Whatever else is true, a single boo-boo, or typo, whether it’s on a page, or in a relationship, is not the sum of the person, the prose, or the relationship. I know this as an author, but I lost sight of that.
We’re here to learn how to love and be loved, says me, and meanness in any guise runs counter to my Starfleet directive. I’m fortunate that the person I wronged heard and accepted my apology. I elevated the problem over the person, and for that, I will always be sorry. Why did I do that?
I lost perspective because I’m tired, sometimes overwhelmed, and oh, what a coincidence, human. Right there, right where I screwed up, is where I can reconnect with the person I wronged and with my better intentions.
I had to think about this, about what I was apologizing for, and why I’d felt so wronged in the first place. When I got upset with the situation, I did not do as the conflict managers are taught to do, and come up with a neutral definition of the problem. Instead I started blaming, finding fault, and accusing.
Drat and bother. I hate it when I do that. The situation is behind me now, but I’m chastened and also mindful that I popped off at somebody because I need to look after myself a little better. Fewer to-dos, more good nights sleep; fewer accomplishments and more kindnesses.
When was the last time you stepped in it and had to apologize? Was there a time when you didn’t and wish you had? What stopped you? When did somebody apologize to you, and get it right?
To one commenter, I’ll send a $25 American Express gift card.