Why Forgiveness in the Workplace Matters

Mar 29, 2021 1 Min Read
Forgiveness is the process of letting go of pain and anger
Source:Leaderonomics Archives
Unwrap the Gift of Forgiveness in the Workplace

Psychologists define forgiveness as a deliberate and conscious decision to let go of, or release, feelings of resentment towards a person, a group or a situation. It is a process of letting go of hurt and anger, whether or not forgiveness is deserved

Forgiveness is rarely discussed in the workplace - imagine, if you could unwrap the Gift of Forgiveness?

Forgiveness helps employees become aware of their mistakes and know their employer will help them conquer them and build skills to avoid making the same mistakes again. Others will be encouraged to move past their own mistakes. Relationships could be truer and stronger, and this leads to a more connected culture where interactions and collaboration become deeper and more meaningful.

Forgiveness in the workplace

Martin is a national sales manager and member of his company’s senior leadership team. Martin’s organisation has strong culture and shares learnings related to both challenges and successes.

During an offsite strategy meeting, Martin shares with his peers some of the initiatives he and his team are working on. He mentions a particular bespoke project he and his team were looking to roll out later that year. The idea is received positively. Four weeks later, one of his peers takes Martin’s idea on board with a customer before Martin and his team has even rolled it out in their division. Martin is furious, confused and hurt. Martin confronts his peer who says the initiative is different than Martin’s proposal. The two teams became distanced and Martin is now hesitant to share.

It takes Martin three months to get to a point where he can let go of the anger and resentment he was carrying. He realises it is holding him, the team and the organisation back. He speaks to his colleague and expresses how he feels. However, his peer doesn’t admit fault and it takes Martin time and strength to forgive.

Often when we are caught up in anger and resentment, it is only ourselves who suffer. Martin said, “by really understanding my emotions and acknowledging what had happened, I am able to commit to forgiving my peer and moving on.”

More about Leveraging: Forgiveness as a Business Tool

The benefits of forgiveness

Dr Fred Luskin, Director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, has completed extensive research on the training and measurement of forgiveness therapy.

His research demonstrates that learning forgiveness leads to increased physical vitality, hope, self-efficacy, optimism and conflict resolution skills. It shows that forgiveness can be learned and that there is an increase in vitality, and a reduction in the emotional and physical manifestations of stress when we practise forgiveness. He believes that when we don’t forgive, our mind and body are disrupted, giving the offender huge power over us.
When we forgive, we take our power back. If we don’t forgive, this becomes part of our story and we continue to bring negative experiences and relationships into our workplace that can stifle performance, happiness and collaborative workplace culture.

An amazing article on forgiveness by Prof Dr. George Kolhrieser: The Power of Forgiveness

Watch this short video on how empathy can help you significantly in your work.

The keys to forgiveness

1. Identify and acknowledge your hurt

It’s important to know the source of the hurt or betrayal you are living with. It may have been a person, a situation or even a missed opportunity. Take the time to acknowledge how you are feeling and recognise your thoughts towards it.

2. Forgive yourself

All forgiveness starts from within. You cannot fully forgive another if you are holding them hostage in your mind.

3. Change your story

The things we tell ourselves shape our beliefs and then create the story we live by. Take the time to revisit your beliefs around the story you hold in the context of what needs to be forgiven.

4. Have the conversation

What is the real conversation? Think about how to have the real conversation? Be open, be honest and separate the behaviour from the person. Provide examples, articulate how you are feeling and work towards an amicable relationship where you can focus on work and remain professional.

5. Develop a forgiving mind through empathy

Empathy and compassion will result in action when we let go of the hurt and focus on the solution of forgiveness. Practise self-compassion and compassion for the other person.

6. Seek support

We need support around us – and often the right people and resources will emerge when we are ready to forgive. Tap into resources such as reading and inspirational podcasts, which can equip you with motivation and supportive insights.

7. Practise gratitude

The Gift of Forgiveness is one of the most powerful ways to empower growth – not just for the forgiver, but also for the forgiven. When we come to a place of peace, we have the best chance to live our best life and focus on what we have, rather than what we don’t have.

Be light on yourself when unwrapping the Gift of Forgiveness. The way in which we practise forgiveness is as unique to us as our fingerprints. The process and time taken, and the type of support we need, will differ depending on the situation, the priority we place on it, our past experiences and our openness and intention to forgive.

Read more on how forgiveness can unlock your success here.

Check out this special learning video by Leaderonomics on your 20k impact moments.
To inquire about Leaderononomics Learning programmes, email us at info@leaderonomics.com

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Tags: Moral Character


Renée Giarrusso, author of Gift Mindset and Limitless leadership is a communication and leadership expert. She is a speaker, trainer, mentor and a professional coach (PCC) and works with leaders, teams and organisations to energise mindset and accelerate leadership and communication to lift performance and create collaborative and connected cultures. Find out more at www.reneegiarrusso.com www.giftmindset.com

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