Two Words Grown-Ups should be able to say

It is astonishing how immature ‘grown-ups’ can be. Why is it that these two words (basic words that were part of our vocabulary as young children), get lost in too many adults’ vocabulary? They can’t say two simple, easy-to pronounce words.  They can’t bring themselves to say:  “I’m sorry”.

can't say sorry or I am wrongRemember Fonzie?  In many Happy Days episodes over the years, Fonzie had a tough time saying “I’m wrong” and ‘I’m sorry”.

For a good laugh, view snippets from this classic TV show by watching this consolidated video.






Why these two simple words are so powerful and important in professional relationships:

1. Vulnerability.  No one is perfect. Things happen. Being able to say I’m sorry is a great way to let others know you are human.

2. Honesty.  If you missed a deadline, been late to a meeting, forgot to attach the document to an email, sent the wrong file by mistake…whatever happened, be honest. People want to work with people who are honest. Not being able to simply say I’m sorry in these situations is not being honest with yourself or your colleagues. It makes the mistake, oversight, problem worse by not being honest with those impacted. It negatively reflects on you. It raises doubt about your honesty and your professionalism.

3. Accountability. Be accountable for your actions. Admit whatever it was did not go as planned/as agreed/as expected. Be a man (or woman) and step up and deal with it. Don’t avoid it. Don’t brush it aside like it did not matter. Grow up and accept the consequences and start with simply saying “I’m sorry”. By not doing so, you are exposing an unfavorable character flaw that is more important that you think.

4. Sincerity. Say it and mean it. If you can’t say I’m sorry, do you wonder what else your colleagues or clients or partners think you are not capable of saying or doing? Being able to say it and mean it is really a (basic) but valuable personality trait. You can earn people’s trust by being sincere. You can earn people’s respect by being sincere.

5. It is the right thing to do. Really simple: do the right thing! If you Fu*&% up, fix it. Do the right thing. As one of my co-workers would say: ‘grow a pair’. Say “I’m sorry” because you need to say it. The people you have impacted deserve that respect and acknowledgement. Treat other people with the respect they deserve and simply, do the right thing!

I have lived a real-life saga over the past  two weeks interacting with a ‘professional’ who is not professional. She has failed in all 5 reasons listed above as to why these two words are powerful. Her communications have highlighted her inability to be honest, accountable and sincere.  Her inability to ever acknowledge the big impact her actions and lack thereof have had on others has been astonishing and the impetus for this blog.

I could fill two pages of content of examples of where saying I’m sorry is warranted in the professional world. But I won’t! Also, for the record I am NOT encouraging people to be wimps and say “I’m sorry” as a knee-jerk reaction when you have NOTHING to be sorry for.  Consciously work on putting these two simple, powerful words BACK into your vocabulary. It will make the world a better place if everyone said I’m sorry.  Then, (a girl can hope!) if we can each learn from the root cause and fix the root cause…well the impact of that could really be something.

As Ellen DeGeneres says at the end of her daily Ellen show “Be kind to one another!”  And, be a grown-up and say “I’m sorry.”






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