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Give up saying “I’m sorry”
I’ve had a chance to interview a number of fascinating and accomplished guests on my radio show, Abundance, Incorporated on Unity online radio. One recent interview was with Rev. Dr. John Waterhouse, the first President of Centers for Spiritual Living. Dr. Waterhouse has been learning, teaching and practicing Science of Mind principles for over 30 years. His life is about revealing and celebrating the divine power and presence that dwells within each person he meets. With this as his foundation, he has created a variety of expressions through which he contributes to the human experience.
Dr Waterhouse holds a PhD in Organizational Psychology from Union Institute and University and he is the author of two books, Five Steps to Freedom: An Introduction to Spiritual Mind Treatment and The Sorry Syndrome; How to Learn from Missteps Without Apologizing.
Dr. Waterhouse and I spent a lot of time discussing his book, The Sorry Syndrome; How to Learn from Missteps Without Apologizing. What I learned is that people have been conditioned over time to say “I’m sorry” without meaning it and without enabling a change in behavior for the future. I have to say, I’m guilty of using “I’m sorry” more often than I realized. If I don’t understand what someone says, I tend to say “sorry?” in order for them to repeat what they said. And they do! Dr. Waterhouse points out that many of us have learned to say “I’m sorry” when we’re not apologetic, and we don’t expect to change anything in our behavior.
Therefore, he suggests that we banish the word “sorry” from our vocabulary and take authentic responsibility for our actions. Summarized below are four steps to take responsibility as part of our communication with another person instead of saying “I’m sorry”:
- This is what I did. Begin your conversation with this step to confirm each other’s understanding of what happened. Take responsibility up front. Let them know that you’re paying attention.
- This is what happened as a result. Now that both of you are on the same page, you need to agree on what resulted from your initial action. Offer your perspective on what happened as clearly and succinctly as possible without defending yourself. Then ask, “Is this what happened?” which lets the other person think about the situation and take a position to agree or expand on what you said. This moves you both closer to a resolution.
- This is what I’m learning. Focus on consciously understanding what you’re learning from the experience at hand. Everyone makes mistakes, but most people aren’t willing to take authentic responsibility and modify their behavior to avoid repeating their missteps. Convey to the other person what you’ve learned.
- This is my commitment to change. This is the final step where you can demonstrate your intention to do things better in the future than in the past. You state what you’ll do differently the next time this kind of situation arises. You develop wisdom.
Following is an example from The Sorry Syndrome of all four steps in action:
Bill sends out email invitations to a team meeting. Cheryl, an important team member, doesn’t get an invitation. She walks into the meeting as it’s ending and is clearly not happy!
Bill: Hi Cheryl. You’re upset with me and have every right to be.
Cheryl: Yes, I am! How could you not tell me about this meeting?
Bill: You’re right. I sent out the meeting notice, and you were not on the distribution. I messed up not only with you but the entire team. Your participation is essential to our success. Without you, we can’t get our work done. Am I right?
Cheryl: Yes, you’re right. Now, I want to be briefed on what happened and know my part in what you’ve decided today.
Bill: We need to address that as a team. But we first need to make sure this never happens again. Sarah, would you take responsibility for sending out meeting notices from now on? Clearly, this isn’t my genius and I don’t want to exclude anyone ever again. Will you handle that, Sarah?
Sarah: Sure, I’ll do it.
Bill: Cheryl, does that work for you?
Bill: Now, let’s catch Cheryl up on our progress and hear her thoughts about where we’re headed.
There are so many golden nuggets and helpful information in The Sorry Syndrome, I hope that you’ll read it for yourself and learn the tools necessary to gain more wisdom and freedom in your life. All on line retailers carry The Sorry Syndrome by John Waterhouse. If you’d like to listen to my full interview with Dr. Waterhouse on Abundance, Inc, you can do so anytime at Unity on line Radio. He shares a number of other techniques and examples to help us all to live free and happy lives.
May you be blessed, prospered, happy, and healthy now and always. For more information about me and my work, please visit www.maymccarthy.com.