The Nuances of Interpersonal Effectiveness Series, #10: Two Key Words for Every Business: Love & Forgiveness

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 20, Issue No. 7a
December 1, 2021

By Dan Coughlin


Two of the most important and least discussed words in business are love and forgiveness.


I’m taking a nine-month course called, The Spiritual Exercises. It has been tremendous. One night the instructor gave a 30-minute lecture on God’s love. At the end, I raised my hand and asked her for her definition of love. Without looking at any notes and without hesitating, she said, “Love is seeing the good in another person and accepting the person as he or she is right now.”

Wowser. That was super useful. So simple and so powerful.

Think about all of the energy we, me included, waste in seeing the negatives in other people, focusing on those negatives, and criticizing the person based on those negatives. Scan over the past month and think about specific times you became frustrated or angry or disappointed because of something negative you saw in your boss, peers, employees, suppliers, patients, customers, or students. Judging people negatively and festering on those negatives eats up huge chunks of our lives.

Try this for one month. Whenever you think of any individual, think about the positives you see in that person. Focus in on the person’s strengths. Reflect on the person’s good work. Rather than obsessing on wanting the person to change, accept the person as he or she is right now. As you interact with the person, allow the good you see in him or her to become the basis of your conversation. Do this with everyone, particularly the most difficult people for you to interact with.

I think you’ll find that you are using the minutes in your day in a healthier and more productive way.


Person B does something truly wrong like cheating on an expense report. Person A has the authority to fire Person B. Person A has worked with this person for a long time and there has never been a problem before. To fire, or not to fire, that is the question.

Forgiveness says a lot about the relationship. Forgiveness is not forgetting. It’s not letting another person get away with something. Forgiveness is a firm act of love. After you provide them with consequences for their choices, consider forgiving the person.

Here are the three steps involved in forgiveness.

  1. Acknowledge that you know what happened.
  2. Choose to continue to see the good in this person and accept that human beings make bad choices.
  3. Ask the person to recommit to each other in a relationship based on trust and respect, and make it clear that stealing from the company breaches that trust and it can never happen again.

If we fire every person who has ever done anything wrong, we will be getting rid of a lot of people without any opportunity for them to learn from the experience or to make adjustments going forward.

Once you forgive the person, then let the situation go. It’s not forgiving if you constantly bring up what the person did. You have acknowledged what happened. You didn’t ignore it. You are letting the person know that you are choosing to look at the good within him or her, and you are accepting that the person is a human being who made the wrong choices. And you are recommitting to the person to go forward in a trusting relationship. There’s no need to rehash the bad decision the person made.


Love and forgiveness are incredibly important in all relationships, but in the busyness of business we may forget how real they are and how useful they are throughout the day. All businesses are relationship businesses. Love and forgiveness are crucial parts of every relationship.

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