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.