Forgiveness in the Workplace

job interview Can forgiving that bad boss you had help your career? Probably. Charles Griswold of The New York Times, joins in on the power and value of letting go of on-the-job resentments.

For years, members of the scientific community, such as the Mayo Clinic, have been explaining how the toxic cluster of emotion related to resentment, impairs thinking processes and negatively affects physical ones such as blood pressure. One of the reasons why forgiveness is gaining so much attention in the business world is because of the current pace and volatility of the economy. You can't hope to navigate such a climate if you're stuck in resentment mode.

So, how do you forgive that bad boss? Every major religion provides suggestions on compassion and forgiveness. Essentially, the fundamentals, explains Alex Lickerman, M.D. in Psychology Today, boil down to:

Empathy. Keep in mind that the boss, like every human being, has blind spots, as well as a shadow side, and tends to make poor decisions when under stress. For the same reasons you probably have used your own authority in ways that might have harmed others.

Giving up control. Obsessing about a bad boss rarely serves to change that boss' behavior. You can't control another person. Also, it's wise to give up on hopes of achieving "justice," which is really nothing but an abstract idea the way you think the world should be. Just think back and recall all the wars that have been fought in the name of justice.

Your part. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Often your own attitude and behavior can be major factors in triggering the worst emotions in your boss. It can be a game changer in your career to focus on cleaning up your side of the street.

Learning what to avoid. There are a couple of takeaways from all this. First, as you progress in your career, learn what the warning signs are of problem managers. Once your familiar with these signs you can steer yourself away from working for bosses that are likely to have issues. Secondly, learn to let go, there is a time and a place for conflict but holding on the emotions associated with such conflict can cause long term damage if you can't let them pass.

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