Three Little Words

Question: I’m in the middle of a dispute with a colleague. I know she’s wrong and I’m right. But now I’m beginning to wonder. I’m concerned that this dispute is damaging my relationship with her. How do I work my way out of this mess?

Answer: There are three underused words in the English language that would probably solve all of this . . . I am sorry. Why don’t we say we’re sorry more often? For some reason, we believe that apologizing somehow causes us to lose something in a relationship. In fact, just the opposite occurs. I’ve been one of those people who always had to be right about everything. And after a lot of self-analysis I realized that this may have been driven to an extent by some sort of insecurity or lack of confidence.

Here’s an obvious statement; apologies must be real. How many times have we heard a politician or other public figure make this kind of an apology, “I’m sorry if my comments offended some in the community.” Saying one is sorry if someone else is offended can be subject to interpretation. Is the speaker sorry that someone took what he said the wrong way? Or is he sorry for what he actually said? If the apology was sincere, the speaker would say, “I’m sorry for what I said because I was wrong.” There’s no doubt that this person is truly remorseful about what he said.

I’ve gotten better at making heartfelt apologies. I’m not completely there yet, but my progress is incremental. I’ve found that I am catching myself before I try to defend a word or deed that may or may not be correct. The old me would argue to the end of the day that I was right. Not so much now. Several months ago I had what I thought was a playful moment with my wife. I had been teasing her throughout the evening and was oblivious to how frazzled she was at the end of the day. I made the mistake of turning the light off on her before she got into bed causing her to stumble around in the dark. She blew her top at me – something that very rarely ever happens. The old me would have snapped back at her that she was being overly sensitive and that I wouldn’t tease her if I didn’t love her so much. Instead, I made a choice at that moment. I simply said, “Honey, I’m being totally childish and insensitive. I’m completely wrong and I’m sorry.” The situation was defused and there were no hard feelings. I’ve also stopped turning the light off on her before she gets into bed.

Being able to say “I’m sorry” is not an act of weakness but an act of honesty. Sincere apologies build relationships and are an indication that we value another person. Rarely will we find three little words that have as much power as “I am sorry.”

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.


It’s An Art

Question: I am beginning to attend more social and business functions. I’m not sure exactly how to make the most of such events. Some people seem so natural at being in groups. What advice do you have for me?

Answer: Working a room is an art. Certain unique individuals walk into a room and suck all the air out of it. They have big personalities and people naturally gravitate to them. For most of us we have to expend more effort to get the results we want. Which brings us to the question of just exactly what do we want to gain from personal encounters in group settings? For me it’s about the fact that I enjoy meeting and being around other people. And it’s about collecting as many relationships as possible over the course of my life . . . relationships that I can serve in some way.

I have developed a very specific approach to working a room. I make sure that I have a good supply of business cards in my coat pocket. I generally stop at the bar for a glass of water (I’d rather not drink alcohol at these functions) and then I’m ready to launch. If I see someone I know, I’ll make a beeline to him or her and strike up a conversation. Usually this will result in the person I know introducing me to someone else whom I haven’t previously met. Ultimately, I try to meet everyone in the room depending of course upon the size of the gathering. I tend to make the first move – look the person in the eye, shake their hand firmly and give them my name. I get their name in return and then I usually ask a question of some sort. It may be about the event, the host or something I’ve observed about the person. The conversation usually comes easy after that.

My purpose for meeting people is not to see what they can do for me. It’s the other way around. I live my life knowing that when I help others, good things will come back to me in ways I can’t imagine. So, I’m not “targeting” people to meet in order to position myself to eventually “sell” them something. Over the years I’ve met some of the most fascinating people on the planet. I’ve figured out ways to help them, and my life – both business and personally – has been richly blessed as a result.

The key to success with social or business group situations is to have a well-defined purpose. If we show sincere and genuine interest in other people; are there to talk about them; listen to them; and find ways to help them, we’ll be rewarded beyond our wildest dreams.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.