A few years ago, I was playing a doubles tennis match and after missing an easy shot I said to my partner Archie that I was sorry. He then told me emphatically, “From now on, never say you’re sorry, just stay aggressive!” All of a sudden a great weight was taken off my shoulders. I didn’t worry anymore about pissing off my partner by screwing up and instead just focused on winning the game. I relaxed, had more fun, and generally played better.
Since then, playing doubles has never been the same. I never say “sorry” any more, and the moment my partner says he’s sorry I say, “Don’t worry, just stay aggressive.” Of course after that it’s a given that I don’t have to say sorry anymore either.
I have the same rule when dancing, as I’ve been addicted to salsa dancing for the last four years. The moment my partner says sorry, I smile and say, “Baby, you never have to say you’re sorry to me, at least for screwing up.” Just like in tennis we both relax more, we dance better and usually have a good time.
The “no sorry” rule should definitely be in effect in a business setting as well. When a team gets together to come up with new ideas or strategies, its members need to know they are safe to ask questions or bring up ideas which may turn out to be lousy. If employees fear they will be punished through ridicule, embarrassment or firing they probably will be afraid to bring up anything interesting or creative. Sometimes when I have writer’s block or I’m stumped by a problem, I ask myself, “What’s the most ridiculous idea you can think of?” Believe it or not, often those ideas turn out to be the best ones. Or a “stupid” idea can lead a discussion to a whole new approach that wouldn’t have been explored had it not been brought up.
At Today’s Machining World and Graff-Pinkert, I’m blessed to work in an environment where bringing up strange ideas is encouraged, even if they turn out to be complete garbage. Discussions are most beautiful when no sorries are allowed. Do you have the no sorry rule in your business?
Question: Does the “no sorry” rule work in marriage?
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