When we get it wrong

I can think of countless mistakes that I have made in the past, things I have said that might have been a little hurtful or patronising or just not clever. Whether the people in question took that much offence and remembered it as vividly as me, I am not sure. These memories come back time and time again with far more prescience than all the more numerous nice, kind empathetic things that I was a part of. Dwelling upon them serves no real purpose apart from the experience we gain and usefulness in modifying our ways for future encounters. The process of recalling the mistakes keeps us out of trouble, steers us away from danger even though the incidents are mostly pretty trivial. Rather than leaving a trail of un-compassion, we seek to furrow kudos in our wake.

I am certain that apologising for mistakes that I have made has gone a long way to help the situation. I found it better to listen to the complaint first, then say sorry. It is easy to blurt out an apology, but it means very little if you don’t fully understand what you have done wrong. It is essential to listen to the grievance at length if you want them to move on.

I have been in some situations where people have become a little offish and have been in a bit of a dilemma as to what to do. I could either broach the subject and find out what, or even if, I have done something wrong or just leave it be and stay out of their way. In some cases, there might not seem much point as the awkwardness won’t be for long. I was at the helm of a sailing boat and during the docking a go around was called. In an aeroplane I was accustomed to hit the throttle and get full power to climb out and circle around to attempt another landing. Putting the pedal to the metal in a cramped sea port is not appreciated by everyone else there. It didn’t help that there were three or four people shouting loudly as to what they wanted me to do. I noticed that on account of all this, someone was becoming rather distant and I made the effort to sort it out. In this case I made an apology straight off which may not have been necessary, especially as I will be going home fairly soon. Once they understood that a go around can give rise to an instinctive response to a pilot, they were quite jolly about it. The change in atmosphere was immediate.

I find the ignoring route, avoiding contact is a hassle and the situation can be remedied so easily by being a bit humble. I see people play the long game as they know they are in the right and wait for an impasse to come about to prove themselves correct. This is all very well, but you have to spend days or weeks with discomfort. Undoubtedly there are countless other tactics but head on and apologising if required is so powerful. Forgetting any pride and using humility gets them onside. I prefer not to have things festering as it would likely be a bane to me, and I could miss out on more than what the other party would. The world is full of millions of permutations and so many different situations arise, but I find that there are occasions where there is no point being seen to be right all the while.

I had a break-in and some stock was damaged by the water that came in through the hole in the roof. During the clean-up we left some of the refuse by a bin across the road. Some days later I had a call from the authorities saying that they had someone prepared to stand up in court and testify that I had left some rubbish by the bin. With all the hassle of dealing with the damage done to the property, I had completely forgotten about it. I cleared up the bags and then went to confront the person who had reported me. Now they could have come over or even given us a call to ask us to do something about it, but instead they went straight into a formal complaint with the authorities. Bracing themselves for a stream of words, stating my displeasure at what they had done, I explained that I had had a break in, and I apologised for leaving the bags there. I felt that I didn’t want an ‘enemy’ on my doorstep and it was better to be cordial even if a reader would see such an example as being rather righteous. I can also point out that as far as I can tell, no matter how bad things are for you, everyone else wants to live their life unaffected.


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