Allow Grace

Have you ever made a mistake at work? Have you ever talked poorly about someone else you work with, or that you know, without that person knowing about it? Have you ever disappointed someone else because you didn’t follow through on what you said you’d do? Have you ever said something that you thought was harmless, but it hurt someone deeply?

The answer for me is a resounding “Yes” to all of the questions listed above. I’m not proud of that, but it’s a reality. I’m human. I’m sure to fall and fail others. Hopefully that’s not intentional, but it could be. I could have filled this entire post with more questions which feature how people fall short of positive and/or ideal behavior.

The challenge in today’s workplace, and in society overall, is that when we fail each other that there is no room for grace. We demand an instant response along with a staunch stance to be taken that has little room for a right/wrong position. We usually want others to hear our opinion and then we make arguments for others to come to our side. In the midst of this type of reaction, we completely run over our humanity.

Now, please understand that I’m talking about when someone makes a mistake and is insensitive or thoughtless about others and their feelings and/or diverse viewpoint. I’m not talking about overt actions and/or poor behavior. That is at a much deeper, and more concerning, level. Poor behavior should always be addressed. Even then though, I would offer that you can allow grace when entering into these difficult situations.

As HR professionals, we are daily in the midst of people. (At least I hope you are !!) People are messy and will fail each other. It’s unavoidable. When it occurs we have a choice. We can either rely on a system of unrealistic policies and procedures as a list of do’s/don’ts as our response, or we can be humans ourselves.

I would recommend that you try a new approach and allow grace to occur.

This may be foreign to you, and I can almost guarantee that it’s foreign to how employees have been approached in the past. We don’t feel that we have the latitude in our roles to show grace to others when they mess up. I just don’t think it’s true. We have more latitude and ownership in how we approach others because it’s our own personal style.

I know that when others have shown me grace when I’ve stumbled, I’ve been thankful. It allowed both of us to breathe, calm down and look at the situation in a fresh and open way. More often than not, it led to a productive outcome and a stronger relationship. Trust me when I say that allowing grace in our interactions with others will be positive most of the time.

This week buck the trend of others who tend to be reactive and destructive when people fail them. Instead of talking ABOUT others, talk TO them with an attitude of grace first so that you seek to understand them, the situation they’re facing and how to potentially move forward. If you try this, I think you’ll see the people aren’t as bad as you think. Also, it will make HR, and your life, more balanced and fulfilled. It works.

16 thoughts on “Allow Grace”

  1. What a great concept to share with folks Steve! Being raised by my grandparents and in a household of faith, I learned about forgiveness and grace as a child. I’ve tried to get the supervisors and managers where I’ve worked to have a “simple conversation” when something comes up. It’s at that time you can show grace and understanding an it often prevents the difficult conversations that have to occur if you allow a poor behavior to continue. I spent 17 years of my 30 in HR in large factory settings where the work rules were so strict where the only opportunity for “grace” was that verbal warning stage. After a move to HR consulting for a couple of years, I’m now working for a former client and I can finally ensure we practice grace first. I think it’s harder, but not impossible, to show grace in larger organizations. I’m blessed since our owners have a deep faith and they believe in grace. We’re a family owned business with 11 locations and just under 100 employees in 5 states, yet we all feel like family. After all these years working in HR, it’s an awesome feeling to finally be able to freely give AND receive grace. I truly believe our employees are more engaged because the grace and caring is real and that’s why we have extremely low turnover.

  2. Yes, yes, yes! When I pause and chose to react with “grace”/love/compassion the outcome always changes.

  3. Reading this over my morning cup of coffee. I believe the compassion gene resides in all of us. Infusing that element of our character, that grace in all situations reminds us that we are humans first, jobs and careers second. Awesome article.

  4. Life is messy…amen to that! This post is for anyone who lives and or works with people. Read it, and be encouraged to exercise your grace muscles.

  5. A bit of humility and grace can go a long way in diffusing a situation. I sometimes think it’s a lost art. Thanks for the Re-teaching one of life’s important lessons Steve!

  6. Good read! Being intentional and allowing grace professionally and personally is a much more peaceful way to live, too!

  7. Yes !! People will respond in kind most times with how you approach them. Has totally changed how I approach my role!

  8. Thank you for your post, Steve! Perfect timing !! The word “grace” has appeared to me many times over the last several weeks and I have been contemplating the meaning, trying to determine what should be happening here. Your post has put many of my thoughts into words.

  9. I love this. Grace is definitely a unique skill that comes easily to a precious few. Most of us have to be disciplined to practice, practice, practice. Luckily, every day presents us with opportunities to practice grace in many ways. I hope we all take advantage of those opportunities. And if/when we fail, we have enough grace with ourselves to accept the failure, learn from it, and keep practicing.

  10. Great post. It reminded me of a recent article in TD magazine about using Compassionate Accountability to avoid “The Drama Triangle” and find the best solutions.

  11. Preach! It is amazing to me the difference in reaction when I approach a situation showing grace and seeking to understand vs. the alternative. It also normally allows me to start building a relationship that may not have been there.

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