From what we’ve seen based on the terrible situation with United Airlines, I think we could all use a refresher course in the proper way we do such things as apologize as well as communicate.
Making Mistakes is Awesome & Failing Can Be Even Better!
As they say, “To err is human”. Meaning, we’re human beings; we all make mistakes. I, for one, encourage mistakes when it comes to the work environment and even encourage mistakes of the children on my son’s baseball team whom I’m assistant coach for. Mistakes and failures are the way in which we can learn and improve. For instance, if we didn’t need to learn nor improve upon anything, we would never go to school. We would simply know everything. But no one knows everything. That why the great philosopher, Socrates, once said, “True knowledge is knowing we know nothing.” That means, you don’t know it all and neither do I. According to Socrates, once you understand that, you finally know something!
With any wrongdoing, one of the most humane and important things one can do is properly apologize. Most people completely understand that mistakes will be made. Sure, there are arrogant jerks out there that think they’re better than everyone else and don’t understand mistakes but even they make mistakes…plenty of them. But the best thing we can do with a mistake other than to learn from it is to apologize. It’s humbling for people. It shows accountability, which in my opinion, is the truest sign of a person’s character. For instance, if a person can’t hold themselves accountable and apologize for something, I personally believe they then lack empathy. Without empathy, I personally believe that you can’t really put yourself in anyone else’s shoes and thus, you really don’t care how you have effected other people. If you don’t care and can’t see how you’ve effected others with your actions, you don’t have good character. Take United Airlines CEO Oscar “the grouch” Munoz for example. Here is a jerk that actually blamed the victim and applauded his staff. Then, just a day later, came out and apologized. Why did he apologize? He apologized because he was forced to and felt the pressure from investors. Those same investors originally thought United Airlines wouldn’t suffer consequences from their actions. They were wrong. Instead, they lost half a billion dollars because of it. A big part of the reason they lost money was not because of the incident itself. Yes, the incident was terrible but they lost money because the CEO lacked empathy and couldn’t be what most would determine as a “normal” human being. Had his first action been to come out and apologize, things would have blow over more quickly and half a billion dollars wouldn’t have been lost. This example shows you that, no matter if things are good or bad, there are always consequences in life.
In this world, especially in business, proper communication is hard to find. I’m going to tell you a secret I’ve learned. If someone really wanted to answer your email or phone call, they would. They may not do so immediately but you certainly wouldn’t have to forward them a message, re-message them or call them again. In this day and age of technology, more and more people tend to be keyboard warriors but have also completely dropped accountability by avoiding communication altogether. I don’t care if news is good, bad or indifferent; you ALWAYS COMMUNICATE. Even if you have to deliver bad news, people would rather hear from you than not hear from you. People appreciate you showing empathy in taking the time to speak to them. People may not be happy with what you present to them and that conversation may create conflict but one of the saddest things I’ve witnessed over the course of the last decade is that people have become afraid of conflict. Thus, they simply don’t communicate. But what they don’t realize is, they do more damage by avoiding communication than they would by simply communicating.
So the next time you don’t feel like communicating, you intentionally avoid someone or you simply don’t want to apologize, ask yourself, “Is it worth me losing money, possibly my job and most definitely my character in order to be avoid proper communication?”