Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Considering Forgiveness In The Workplace
Photo credit: symphony of love / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
When I think of the word forgive or the idea of forgiveness I think of the hurts and wrongs within personal relationships, family and friends. Forgiveness helps to release the tensions and rebuild the relationships when we have been wronged or have wronged another. The holding on of hurts only increases anger and internal pain. We can be enslaved to past events holding grudges while the other party may move on without a care in the world while the unforgiving person is chained up with internal strife reliving the events. The spirit of forgiveness frees us from the stresses and anger to move to an upward spiral of openness in relationships and clarity of pressing forward into new growth areas.
Forgiveness helps overall health by releasing the pent up anger or stress that negatively affects the body. A body full of tension from lack of forgiveness will yield physical problems. Forgiveness builds up resilience in that we learn the freeing power of forgiveness so are better able to deal with future hurts in a better manner. Also by forgiving we strengthen our relationships.
Forgiveness and Work
Photo credit: Cory M. Grenier / Foter / CC BY-SA
Is there a need to think of forgiveness in the workplace? That question came to my mind as I heard of a book by Dr. Deborah Welch, Forgiveness at Work. She brings out how in our workplaces we are often faced with hurts and offenses. These hurts can come at us from co-workers, our managers above us or customers. Sometimes the difficulties we face at work come from the system or style of management of the company of where we work. I remember one place I worked at in Chicago that was taken over by another company. The difficulties and hardships were not purposely caused by any one person in immediate management. Instead the hurts and stress were caused by the nature of the takeover.
Dr. Welch in her book shows how understanding forgiveness in the workplace helps to build trust, resilience, increase productivity. Just think of how many problems in our home relationships stem from unresolved hurts and stressors from our work settings. I have mentioned before that we spend a large amount of time at our jobs. So the irritations and resentments that build up from work affect our overall work effectiveness and carries over into our out of work relationships. She quotes Michael Stone a consultant concerning forgiveness, “ Forgiveness provides opportunities to use mistakes, failures, flaws and breakdowns of life as opportunities to awaken greater wisdom, compassion, and capability in our coworkers and ourselves.”
From the preceding quote can you see how forgiveness in the workplace can re-energize your efforts in your job? Can you see the possibilities on how to improve service to your customer base? I believe it makes a lot of sense to break away from the blame game or the pointing of fingers and be open to the power of forgiveness at work.
Photo credit: Iqbal Osman1 / Foter / CC BY
How do we become better at forgiving those at work who wrong us? Much of Dr. Welch’s book is teaching us by looking at various stories from real life in various companies and her personal stories from therapy clinics she has worked at over the years. One point on forgiveness she sheds light on is the importance of forgiving yourself. She states, “ It is essential to forgive myself because I will never be perfect in my efforts. It is only by forgiving myself with all my imperfections that I can get better at forgiving others.” (p134) Often in our work due to perfectionism or not wanting to admit our imperfections we can be our own worst enemy. As Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar often states in his writings we need to give ourselves the right to be human. This accompanies forgiving ourselves.
I like how she admonishes that by first forgiving ourselves we can then be open to accept the humanness of our co-workers. We need to realize they are human as well. Some problems that occur at work where we do not see eye to eye is often not because one person is right and the other person is wrong. Instead one person is looking at the trunk of the elephant and the other the tail. It boils down to differing perspectives and personality differences. But inside, the desire is to quickly point fingers with pent up feelings that my way is the right way. When the true solution may be a synchronizing of both sets of ideas there just needs to be openness from both parties within the team.
There is so much more on forgiveness from Dr. Welch and the stories she brings to light in her book. Do look for her book online or ask for it at your local library. Remember that forgiveness can be a positive factor in your workplace setting not just in your home life or with personal friends.
Reflection: Do you find irritations and hurts in your workplace negatively affecting your home life relationships or personal friendships? Think over ways you can free yourself up forgiving the hurts from your work setting. Do you need to forgive yourself from beating yourself up over your feelings of inadequacy at work or other aspects of yourself?