I had a client once who’s project took over a year to complete. It was due to her delays and I chose to sit back and wait for her to be ready to do the work. Of course, I have policies in place to address this but basically made a choice to waive those policies at the time and allow the process to unfold within her timing.
Over the course of that year plus time frame, we would stop and start, she would all of a sudden need something done in a very short time frame and I’d do it, etc. Many more hours went into this project than projected. Many more than would have been necessary if we’d stayed on target for completion. Notes had to be revisited, agreements had to be revisited, shifts needed to be made as her business was shifting as well. And I allowed it.
She sat me down a few times and explained she was involved in a program that required them to reflect on how their actions, their choices, etc. impacted others around them. She realized that hers had negatively impacted my life and my business. She knew that it affected other clients even though I never said that and it affected my personal life (because I had to work on off hours to fit her project in with my other workload once our agreed upon time frame had passed). It had affected everything and she wanted to apologize, to give me the opportunity to say anything I had to say to her, and to make sure we were good.
Each time I acknowledged the impact it had on me and told her I appreciated her awareness and willingness to bring up a potentially difficult conversation and then I told her we were good. And I meant that. We really were.
But here’s the thing…the exact same behaviors continued after each conversation. There were no changes at all. Unfortunately for everyone, that cancels out any kind of an apology.
Because this is true above all else.
Words are just words. Your actions are what matter. If you are truly sorry for something you’ve done and you understand how it impacts another and regret those actions, stop doing it. Step up and do more than just reflect and acknowledge. Change your behavior. Do it not just for the other person but also for yourself.
Is there anything in your life you would like to shift today?