In that last post (read here) we introduced the idea of how carrying offense is the enemy of personal freedom in your life. This is not to say that you do not enjoy all the freedoms your country offers, this is to say that carrying an offense can keep you mentally locked up. As was pointed out in the last post, if you are in leadership, this offense can keep your whole team from functioning at a high level. There are three things to avoid when dealing with offenses: Blowing up, gossiping, and minimizing the offense. Each of these can have lasting and devastating relational impact in our lives. This week we look at what we can do when offended and how can we use offenses to show great leadership and actually end up making our team better.
The first thing is to realize that the offense will impact other relationships in your life if not dealt with. Let’s say you are offended by your boss. They do something to you or say something that you have an issue with. You choose option number three above and minimize it. Eventually you leave the organization and get a new boss. As a result of the offense you carry with your old boss, you will not be able to fully invest in the relationship with the new boss. How can you? The shoe will drop again right. You naturally protect yourself by keeping a safe distance. Understanding that offense will impact other relationships could motivate you to deal with it sooner so having a firm understanding of the impact of offenses is the first key to moving past them.
The second thing to do is acknowledge your hurts, your offenses. Know that they are there and that there are consequences. This understanding too will help you in your quest for peace. We have all been there, especially as kids when we fell and got hurt in front of our friends and peers. We held it in and when we went inside and saw mom we cried like babies. These hurts are real and we are no longer kids. Having a safe place to deal with an offense is key to moving past them. Safe places here are not geographical, they are relational. Having healthy relationships at work is very important to the process of working through offenses. In Gallup’s Q12 workplace engagement assessment one of their questions is whether or not you have a best friend at work. These relationships could lead to gossip that is why I qualified them with “healthy” but none the less they are an important concept.
Finally and this will have the biggest impact on resolution on your heart, become a well wisher. As you sit in traffic and think about the offense, wish that person well. Say it out loud. “I hope Jim is not sitting in traffic right now. I hope he had a smooth ride to work.” You might not feel like it you might even want him to crash his car on the way to work, but don’t say it. Resolve in your heart that you want the best for that person. As you begin to do this, your mind will start to shift as you consider this person. This may take even 30 days but don’t stop or give up, your freedom is at stake. You will be far more likely to deal with the offense if you respond this way.
Freedom from offense is a key to success in any organization. There may not be an opportunity for you to directly confront the person who offended you and to be honest it may not be appropriate, especially if a number of years has gone by. The key to freedom in this case is forgiveness. Chris and I harp on this one a lot but it is just true. The offended person needs to be forgiven. As we said before forgiveness does not absolve them from anything, but it sure does free you. When your teams and colleagues see you willing to deal with offenses by not gossiping or holding grudges they will see someone they can trust. When trust is established, well, there are enough books written about trust in an organization, it is a game changer from a relational and ability to execute perspective.
As you consider independence day this month, consider where in your life freedom is lacking. Where at work there is offense that needs to be dealt with. Understand its impact on your organization’s ability to be successful. Remember that blowing up, gossiping, or minimizing the offense can cause an avalanche of relational issues that your organization may not recover from. You can be the leader and realize the relational impact, acknowledge the hurt and wish them well at every turn. This will lead to the ultimate freedom of forgiveness. This is the foundation of greatness in any relationship, work, marriage, or family. Enjoy your freedom this week, regardless of context, it didn’t come cheap, and it takes work to maintain!