Work Some Forgiveness Into Your Work

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From Paul Smith’s blog Welcome To The Occupation — One of my most complicated tasks in Human Resources is to remind folks that we are all human. I think to most people most of the time, this could seem like a simple or maybe unnecessary task. However, it plays an enormous role in my conversations with employees … managers and non-managers alike.

Obviously, my conversations are not reminding employees that other employers are not insects, or trees, or lamps.

I’m reminding folks about the innate imperfections that exist in every aspect of the work we do, where we do the work, how we do the work, and who does the work.

In every job I’ve had, I’ve witnessed the same pattern: the dissatisfaction with all of the above. It’s based on the human trait of searching for the negative in everything.

Sometimes the dissent and dissatisfaction is a good thing if the culture is horrible.

But if it’s a great organization and negativity is not curbed or put into it’s rightful context, it can have an unnecessary crippling effect.

Work some forgiveness into your work
Work some forgiveness into your work.

A Stone’s Throw Away

Recently I started to watch the nightly network evening news again. (Most news sources have been newspapers and the internet.)

It’s fascinating to watch the obvious slant they have of the imperfections of humans. Every night, the news is presented with the amazed disbelief and dismay that mistakes were made by the police, by scientists, by doctors, by lawyers, etc. etc. etc.

But the largest amount of disbelief that is doled out is for our government and business leaders. These folks get the lion’s share of the finger-wagging, the head-shaking and the stunned surprised looks. The tone of these news stories, whether it’s opinion poles or guess-work, is our leaders are doing a bad job.

Some are doing a bad job because they are criminals or sociopaths. But I believe that most bad jobs come down to normal human foible. We are simply imperfect in every thing we do.

How many perfect decisions did you make today? Did you make perfect decisions all day? Did you make perfect decisions everyday?

I would guess that the answer to these three questions is no, no and no. In fact, I would guess that you made some bad decisions, some bad judgements, bad rationalizations, and sometimes you did it with bad intent. If you agree you’re not perfect, why is so hard to believe the imperfection in others?

Why don’t we believe this first and foremost instead of attributing mistakes to deliberateness or stupidity?

The Fantasy Answer

My guess is this occurs when we live in a fantasy world of over-optimism which leads to over-pessimism especially at work.

New hires like politicians are viewed as saviors with overwhelming potential. New managers like doctors are viewed as having exulted knowledge. New jobs like scientists are viewed as doing nothing but saving the world.

The reality is that politicians, doctors and scientists all fail. Approaching situations with extremity on one side of the spectrum, like a pendulum, that attitude swings to the opposite extreme. Hence, over-optimism leads to over-pessimism.

But why do we do this?

Read more  about working forgiveness into your job on Paul Smith’s blog Welcome to the Occupation

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