Friday, April 20, 2012

The Business of Forgiveness...

“I am SO sorry.” “I can’t believe I forgot, so sorry!” “Didn’t mean to let you down.” “It will never happen again.” “My bad.”  “So sorry to be late, traffic was awful, car wouldn’t start, got here no parking! What a start to the day.”  How many times have you said this or heard these statements? A simple, clear and clean apology without all the  drama is the better way of asking for forgiveness and owning a mistake in the workplace. It sounds like this “Please forgive me for being late,” said Shawne Duperon, media expert and creator of Project Forgive (

I had the pleasure of interviewing Shawne Duperon, and Deborah Welch, an expert and author on the topic of forgiveness in the workplace.  Deborah so eloquently described forgiveness as the process of moving through grief, instead of suffering, blaming oneself or others.  Forgiveness results in freedom.
Deborah talked with such passion about the importance of stories; in fact, she has been collecting stories of forgiveness for almost three decades.  Stories are a powerful form of communication and trust building.  She shared her story, one that involved a traumatic loss. She explained that the journey for forgiveness, forgiving self or others, is different for each person.  Through her journey to forgive herself, the puzzle pieces began to fit together, and in letting go and forgiving, life opened up.

The benefits to a workplace culture that embraces forgiveness are many, but at the top of the list are:
  • -          Improved relationships
  • -          Increased trust
  • -          Reduced stress, guilt, suffering and pain
  • -          Greater sense of synergy
  • -          Safety to learn and grow

Deborah and Shawne offered a variety of tips to foster a culture of forgiveness at work, these are my personal favorites:

-          Start the conversation. Create a culture whereby vulnerable conversations can take place, where team members and leaders can talk about their mistakes, and grow through them. 
-          Silence the unhelpful, negative and self defeating chatter in our minds.
-          Use clean and clear statements of apology (or drama free statements)
-          Breathe, take time to process the situation before reacting on an emotional level

Children get the concept of forgiveness, to them it is simple, or as Shawne would say, it is clean.  Take five minutes to watch this video; you’ll see what I mean.

To find out more about Deborah Welch, and her phenomenal book  FORGIVENESS AT WORK: Stories of the Power, Possibility, and Practice of Forgiveness in the Workplace , visit:

And you can learn more about Shawne at