Gautama Buddha is credited with the following quote: “If you propose to speak, always ask yourself is it true, is it necessary, is it kind.” No one, that I know of, has the honor of saying all of the right things all of the time. This quote is great to keep in mind before we speak aloud, but what should we do when the words have already tumbled out and is causing damage? I am a defender of free speech, but I am also a defender of accepting the consequences of that speech. When we say something untruthful, unnecessary, or unkind, it could damage our entire reputation, our relationship with others, or with our relationship with ourselves.
- The first step to making things right is to acknowledge the screw-up.
- The second step is to give a sincere apology. Leave out the “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts”….say that you are sorry for ________. Insert offending action in the blank area.
- The third step is to ask the offended person(s) what is it that you can do to make things better and then commit to doing it.
- The fourth and final step is to actually be sincerely apologetic enough to not do it again.
These steps do not guarantee that everything will go back to the way it was prior to the offending words or actions, but it does guarantee improvement from they way it could have turned out had the steps not been taken. It puts the situation on a better path, so to speak. We all make mistakes and do things that are not constructive to our goals at times. It is in these times that we notice our room for improvement. It is in these times that we are faced with the challenge to remain in the wrong or put in effort to get it right.
I do not want to focus on how appalling Donald Sterling’s words were. That is a given. His words were absolutely appalling. They were not true, necessary, or kind. Imagine that Donald Sterling publicly acknowledged his offense and apologized in a quest to move forward towards improving the situation? What are some constructive ways that Donald Sterling can complete the third step and make things right?