Mea culpa

The next time someone points out something you have done wrong – a loved one, a boss, a coworker – Own it. Don’t deny it, don’t try to defend it, don’t make excuses. If there is any truth whatsoever to the accusation, take the blame.

Owning up to our shortcomings actually puts us in the more powerful position. By facing them, we assume the power to correct them. By denying them, we deny ourselves this ability, thus leaving ourselves powerless.

Also, admitting fault and expressing an honest apology and desire for improvement, more often than not, immediately renders the temper and ill will of the accuser moot. If someone is angered by something that you have done, and they approach you with that anger, that anger is much harder to hold when met with “You are right. I am sorry. Let’s all learn from this.”

I often think about how many corporations could improve their customer service experience by simply training their employees to make “We’re sorry” be the first thing that leaves their mouth when met with a customer complaint. Combining that with giving those workers the power to correct any issue is what separates the companies with unmatched service from the rest.

The bottom line: Mea culpa. Assume the empowerment (and responsibility) that comes from being the one who is actually in control of the situation and the only one who can do something to correct it. Be the hero, not the zero.

This post was inspired by a comment made by my lovely and brilliant wife, who is often burdened with way too many excuse makers in her life.

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