Washing my dirty linen: the apology

[I’m honoured that LinkedIn has allowed me to publish my blog directly on LinkedIn hereafter. I will, of course, continue to replicate my posts here, for the benefit of those who do not know me through Facebook or LinkedIn–and for the love of WordPress itself!]

After reading this LinkedIn article, and especially after watching this adorable five-minute video, I could not help remembering some of the shameful things I’ve done.

Many years ago, in the days of audio cassettes, I borrowed my cousin’s Cliff Richard cassette because I wanted to make a copy of it. I did not have a tape-to-tape recorder, but my classmate Rekha [name changed] did. I gave her my old (previously used) cassette that had some bad recording, and I asked her to overwrite it with the Cliff Richard one.

When she gave it back to me, I was horrified to find that she had replaced the Cliff Richard cassette with the awful recording! She had carelessly mixed up the source and destination cassettes. (What had happened was that the manufacturer of the Cliff Richard cassette had not broken the anti-erasure tab before selling it. Of course, I could not help wondering how Rekha could have done something so stupid–had I been in her place, I would have played a section of both tapes first, just to be sure I was erasing the right one.)

Cassette Write Protect IV.jpg

When I pointed out the recording error to Rekha, she was quite indignant, certain that she could not have made a mistake. Then she confidently said, “Don’t panic; let me see what we can do about it”. [Yeah, right!] After playing it a few times, she too realised that she had made a mistake. There was not the slightest apology from her.

What I did was even worse. I felt it was not my fault; it was Rekha’s fault after all–so why should I apologise to my cousin? When I returned the cassette, I did not tender an apology. I just said, “Rekha made a mistake on this.” My mom, feeling embarrassed, apologised to my aunt–and I thought my mom was nuts; after all, it was even less her fault than mine or Rekha’s, so why was she apologising?!!

Shame on me.

Many years later, though, I still routinely see people–both at and outside the workplace–who find it extremely hard to say thanks or sorry, let alone paying someone a compliment. More on the apology the next time.

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