I recently discovered that we had used an image on some publicity that belonged to a national organisation. A representative of that organisation contacted us and was clearly not happy. My colleague who took the call passed on the message with an agreed time I would call back to explain and when I made the call on Monday evening I wasn’t sure what response I would get. We had used the image innocently and there was nothing to indicate it was copyrighted when we came across it or that it belonged to any organisation. So how should I approach the call? Should I go on the offensive, be defensive or was there a better way? I decided on a simple explanation of what had happened and an apology. I had already removed the artwork from our website and facebook before my phone call and I explained this and also that we weren’t going to use it again now that we knew it belonged to them. I said all this and then paused, waiting for the response. The response was overwhelmingly gracious (phew!!). They could see we had made an honest mistake and were grateful for our apology. The phone call increased my faith in humanity. I love this quote from Lynn Johnston:
“An apology is the superglue of life. It can repair just about anything.”
How will we treat people today? Will we apologise when necessary? Do we want to glue things together rather than tearing them apart? Proverbs 15.1 says:
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.
I certainly was helped by these words as I approached my phone call. If I had been aggressive or even overly defensive things could have gone very differently.
How much do we respect others? Are we willing to be reasonable and resolve things or do we just want to rant? I’m not saying we shouldn’t be assertive, I just believe that gentleness is a better place to start.
Several years ago I was parked in a car park and a young lady drove into my car. She was very apologetic and was surprised that my first question was to ask if she was all right. She had made a mistake and was upset and the last thing she needed was me being angry with her. I hope that we can all have a go at being kind, gentle and respectful to one another. If we can, the world will be a better place.