Julie Mitchell's CoachNotes


Courageous communication: admitting mistakes with grace

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“Nothing requires more courage than admission of fault.” I saved this quote years ago, and forgot to note the source (oops). Recently, I’m making more than the usual number of silly mistakes, along with a few bigger goofs. I’m trying to be brave when I mess up. I respect people who admit faults responsibly and gracefully. I want to be more like them!

For me, courage means fighting the urge to explain or make excuses (at this moment, I want to list why any human being in my circumstances might be prone to mishaps)! This is one of my greatest communication challenges: acknowledging what happened, then moving on, without getting into reasons. I talk too much when I want to persuade myself and others I was not out of line, or had the best intentions.

After years of being addicted to approval, perfectionism, and doing it “right,” it can be a relief to say I did it wrong, although admitting it out loud – to those who can see I’ve missed the mark – is uncomfortable. Perhaps I may learn to give myself the breaks I offer others. I’m often encouraging people not to sweat the “small stuff,” and then I catch myself agonizing over things that ultimately don’t matter much.

Life is short, and mine — if I’m fortunate to live into my 90s — is more than half over. I would prefer to lighten up and become a wise woman of a “certain age” (as the French say) who is certain her mistakes may be accepted with grace. I am far from calm equanimity when I face my faults, but I’m working on it. When I notice I’ve wasted hours on unimportant stuff, I’m weeks late sending my niece her birthday gift, I forgot to follow up with a prospective client, or I just tried to put my phone in the fridge, I have options:

I can take a big breath (instead of swearing about my “stupidity,” under my breath).

I can smile at how amusing it is to put a phone in the fridge, or laugh out loud at my endless capacity for being distracted and mindless.

I can apologize to anyone who may be feeling hurt, angry, inconvenienced, or overlooked, with a simple, “I’m sorry, you’re right; I messed up.”

I can remember I’m an okay, competent, lovable, and normal human being when I fall short of my expectations. As a wise friend told me, there is beauty in imperfection!

Author: Julie Mitchell

Julie Mitchell is an executive coach, facilitator, professional speaker and senior consultant who can help you create more positive working relationships, improve your performance, and achieve goals through understanding and practicing effective communication on every level.

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