In my faith tradition, this week marks the culmination of a period of reflection and returning. Returning to purpose, values, beliefs.
A part of that returning involves figuring out who we’ve wronged in the past year and then doing out best to make it right. Making it right has three parts. Recognizing that you did something wrong, genuinely apologizing for it and then working not to do it again. It’s a difficult and interesting and occasionally exhausting process, in my experience – and a pretty helpful one.
The hardest part for me is the first step – recognizing who I’ve wronged and how. I’m a bit of a bull-in-a-china shop kind of person – I just move ahead doing my thing and don’t always have great insight into how I land with others. Especially those closest to me. So I’ve had to learn to ask.
Asking can feel like a bit of a cheat. There’s an idea that if you have to ask someone what you’ve done wrong, you’re adding insult to injury. Or that if you need to ask someone what gift you should give them, it’s a sign you don’t care enough about them. Or that if you don’t know someone’s favorite song or movie or Netflix show or whatever, that you’re just not paying attention. It sounds beautiful when people talk about knowing someone else so well that they never have to ask. It also sounds like a fairy tale, because it usually is.
One of the things that my resilience work has shown me is that – no matter how well we know someone – we don’t even know what we don’t know about their experiences, their thoughts and their feelings. If we really want to know? We have to ask.
In the workplace, this means asking if our team has what they need. Asking where the friction points are. Asking how we can support them better.
With clients, this means asking what their stresses are, what’s going well and what isn’t, and how we can help.
With family it means asking how we’re doing for them, how the communication is, what could be more fun or easier.
And it means telling other people those things about us as well.
For worse or better, no one is psychic. Waiting for your boss or your spouse or your friend to “notice” or “just know” drains your resilience and leads to frustration and isolation.
And on that note, if I’ve hurt you or wronged you in some way this year – I hope you’ll let me know, so that I can apologize and set about not doing it again.
All my best,