Friday, July 14, 2006

Sorry: Office politics and the power of apology

Despite the possibility that Zinedine Zidane's head butt may have lost France the World Cup, it seems that his country is ready to forgive him. And all because he said sorry.

For me, too few people back down. Of course for important decisions, you need to stand your ground and argue for your rights. But for other, less important decisions, learn to back down. Even if you are clearly in the right and the other person is in the wrong. Even if you have written confirmation, sworn witnesses and signed affidavits. Because while it may be satisfying to be proved right, consider which is more important to you - proving a point and creating an enemy or backing down and retaining a relationship?

We all hate to back down or lose face. But be prepared to do it. Because success in business depends more on relationships rather than righteousness. Be ready to concede. And do it graciously and wholeheartedly, not grudgingly between gritted teeth.

Swallow your pride because politically savvy people realise it's more important to retain long-term relationships than to be proved right. After all, have you ever heard anyone comment: 'He's unsuccessful but, hey, at least he's still got his pride?'