I’ve found myself estranged in a relationship because of a misperception. Being a leader, I take accountability for perceptions.
Even though I may not have done anything explicitly wrong, a relationship may be strained because of the way someone understands something I said or observed something I did. It could be that they just may not know me well and are left to first impressions and/or interpretations. In any case, I take accountability for the need for the relationship to work.
Beyond perception, there is another part to using forgiveness as a tool where you are not the transgressor. This is when there is hurt from someone in another time when you weren’t even present.
I once took over a division of about eighty people. They had originally been part of a larger division under different management. One day one of my manager’s employees came to see me. She was obviously very angry and was attacking me verbally – cursing and to the point of angry tears. I didn’t let my defenses stay up. I dropped them and began to question her. As she calmed through answering my very specific and open questions, I began to hear the truth.
The truth was even hiding from her. She had been hurt greatly by a former manager who made promises and lied to her. After I listened further, I stated that I needed to ask her a very important question. She said, “Okay.” I looked at her very seriously and asked her if she would forgive me.
She looked suddenly totally relaxed and confused at the same time. She said, “Why? You didn’t do anything.” She was not even conscious of the way she had been cursing at me just minutes before like I had done her a serious wrong. I said, “You see, I’m management and I’m taking accountability for the fact we let an inept person as this ever be responsible for people. And you need to forgive someone to be able to move forward in a productive manner. So I want you to forgive me.” She said, “Okay.” Only then were we able to deal with her requests and move forward together.
Consider forgiveness a required tool and use it wisely. You will be honored and blessed for doing so.