This article is very special as it doesn’t relate to any career guidance or mentoring I generally do. This article is inspired from a real life incident that happened with me couple of weeks back when I acted in a way I shouldn’t have and later how I made it good by a simple apology.
It was Friday morning around 11.30AM when I was in the middle of a meeting. Since past few weeks the work pressure had taken a toll on each member of our team and everyone was gasping for some free time. The work was increasing and unfortunately two of our team members had left the organization. I was sitting with a colleague discussing a business plan for our new venture and the discussions were quite intense.
Right at the middle, my cell phone rings and I saw the name of a client who had called me the day before also but I wasn’t able to pick his call because of some prior commitments. So, I picked up the call and expressed sorry for not being able to talk to him the day before. Things were absolutely fine for next 2-3 minutes when we were discussing the work. We were supposed to get back to the client with some information and I had told him because the team was very busy, we may not be able to manage time for the next few days, but thereafter work would surely get finished. I had committed to the deadlines we had discussed.
Suddenly in the middle of the conversation he started raising his tone enquiring why we are taking time to respond. I politely said – “Sir, few of our team members have left but I am sincerely on the job and we would be able to finish the job”. I told him the deadline to finish the work is still 4 months away and we are confident enough to finish much before that. However, some verbal scuffle started and I just lost my temper. Raising my voice I told him to mind his words because what he was saying was inappropriate and there was no reason to shout. I think my voice tone was quite high.
However, during that call itself I immediately realized this was not good and I shouldn’t have spoken in such a high tone. However, things gradually cooled down and we ended the call. For the next 10 minutes my life was suddenly upside down because in my professional career of 14 years I had never spoken to a client like that and it was absolutely not professional, even if I thought it wasn’t my mistake. I shouldn’t have spoken like that.
Feeling very bad about my behaviour, I went out of the office for a walk and introspected what went wrong. I visualized the entire scene in my mind and I realized my response to an event was abrupt and emotional and therefore, the outcome was negative. The day was absolutely fine, I was in a good mood discussing the business plan of our new venture, excitement about the new venture was palpable but suddenly this call comes, I exchange some heated words and things take normalcy again.
I mean what happened, why did I suddenly lose my temper and why did I react that way to an incident that could have been handled with care.
This reminded me of a very relevant formula that I had read sometime back, which goes as follows:
E + R = O
E = Events
R = Response
The outcomes in our life are the result of our response to events that take place in our lives. If our response is positive, constructive and filled with joy, the outcome shall surely be productive. But, where the response goes negative, filled with anger, jealousy or superficiality, the outcome has to be something that happened with me… unfortunate.
Extremely critical it is therefore, to watch our words and actions and determine outcomes we wish to get rather than outcomes that make us feel low and guilty. My response to the client’s behavior wasn’t professional and as a result the outcome was filled with guilt. And there is no one other than me to take responsibility of what happened. I cannot blame the client for being rude to me, because I couldn’t have stopped him from behaving that way. If he had to behave that way, that’s his problem. But what I could have surely done was watched my response to an untoward event and perhaps, got an outcome that wasn’t so unprofessional.
However, as our elders have told us, let bygones be bygones. Simply move on. On that note, I came back to my seat and immediately wrote an email to him apologizing for what happened and the way I reacted to the situation. I told him I would surely try to mend this act by taking him out for dinner. I purposely did not call him because the incident would have taken him aback as well and I did not want to create any unpleasant situation again.
In the evening I was sitting in the changing room of my gym remembering the morning incidence when I thought that I should call him and apologize personally. Though email was sent, calling him would surely be the right way to mend the damage and I was sure he would also understand what happened and there was no reason to panic. So, mustering some courage I called him and spoke for 5 minutes without any problem. He said – “Nimish it wasn’t anyone’s fault. Even I was under tremendous pressure from my seniors to take the update from you and since I was under pressure, my pitch went up and I did not want to talk like that”. It was an absolutely perfect conversation as if nothing had happened.
I felt extremely happy and light and went for a good work out in the gym. The feeling was purely because I spoke to him, I faced his voice, I listened to my inner voice that I should talk and that helps, I did not succumb to the feeling of ignoring it and finally I could muster courage to mend what went wrong.
Through this article I simply want to share my feelings that life will throw ups and downs and we may not always respond the way ideally we should, as a result facing outcomes upsetting us, making us feel low, sometime frightening us with the results. But there is always a way to mend our outcomes, simply by practicing the following:
1. Vacate your ego chamber
Ego is one of the most dangerous possessions one can have within him/her. Let it go immediately, the more it remains inside you the more your outcomes shall be negative. I left my ego, called up the client and felt extremely happy.
2. Don’t take too much time. Apologize quickly
The moment you feel something terribly wrong happened, don’t waste even a single minute to repair it. The repairing work has to be done immediately otherwise the damage could be irreparable. I know it’s difficult to come out of a negative situation and immediately approach to mend the wrong. But believe me, it has to be done quickly. Just do it and see the results.
3. Feeling may not be mutual. It doesn’t matter
Even if you have chosen to speak to the other person with a feeling of apology you may encounter an absolute non-reciprocal feeling and that may make you feel stupid. You went ahead to say sorry but the other person is still in his/her ego chamber and doesn’t want to take your apology. Or perhaps he/she has been badly hurt and therefore, not ready to accept a nice behavior immediately after that scuffle that happened between you and him/her.
Don’t worry. As it is not easy to say sorry, let me tell you it is also not easy to accept sorry because our brain is just not ready to accept the fact that people would apologize easily and so soon. So, it is Ok even if you have not been responded with warmth on your journey to apologize. But I can tell you with full confidence, sooner or later that works and it works wonders. After all we are all human beings with same feelings and beliefs.
4. Just Move On
Making a mistake doesn’t mean you need to keep thinking about it forever. As humans we are expected to make mistakes, but you need to then move on in life and forget the past. Let your mind be filled up with joy, prosperity, growth, love and kindness, rather than sorrows. You made a mistake, felt apologetic from your heart and then moved on. That’s how it should be.
I hope this article helps you in some way, I don’t know how but I felt like writing this and sharing my experience with you. It is my sincere endeavor to make everyone’s life beautiful, free of stress and simply superlative.
By the way, that client went with me for dinner and we had a good time together. He is still with us and I recently signed one more engagement letter for a new work he has given to me. As I said…It works. Try it.
Keep smiling and stay blessed…
Authored by Nimish Goel (www.nimishgoel.com), a qualified chartered accountant who’s passion is to coach young chartered accountants and aspiring students achieve the best in their life. Nimish used to work with EY and PwC in India and has also worked with KPMG in Europe. He now runs his own consulting company and runs a blog www.nimishgoel.com. He can be reached for any queries and issues on his blog.