Let’s talk forgiveness. In the sacred and spiritual world, we all understand the importance of forgiveness, but how does it get translated in the work environment? How do you forgive at work? How do you forgive after you’ve left a company? Or severed ties in a business relationship?

Forgiveness in the Professional World

I want to look at three ways forgiveness in our work life is most important.

Forgiveness of a Previous Employer

The above questions came to mind after being asked to perform a questionnaire regarding my experience with a former employer. It was a simple survey, yet I felt conflicted and uncomfortable giving a full description of my experience at the company. I found myself being triggered, as my mind started drifting back to some unpleasant experiences from years past. Had I completely forgiven them? I thought I had moved past those feelings, but here I was, not quite sure.

Sometimes, our exit from an organization is so quick, filled with farewell lunches and drinks, necessary paperwork for the next company, and training the person taking over after us, that we don’t take the necessary steps to cleanse said job, so to speak, from our psyche. Your exhale and release from one employer, just rolls into preparation for the next. I am always a proponent of not starting a job right after leaving another. You need time, a week at least, to put things in perspective and clear your mind of all the baggage and bad habits of the last job you held.

Forgiveness of Co-workers

This is the day-to-day forgiveness needed to get your work done and be successful at work. Whatever success looks like to you; forgiveness is definitely going to be a part of making it happen. Some of the very people who annoy, frustrate and even sabotage you in the workspace, are also people you may need.

By no means are you expected to put up with bad behavior at work, but smaller infractions like poor time management, delayed responses to emails, lackluster work performance — if there is nothing you can personally do to curb or end this, you will have to find a way to work with these people, and that starts with forgiveness. Taking every day and seeing it as its own singular entity can keep you most grounded at work. I am saying this as someone who never forgets, but I do try to move on and move forward for my own sanity.

Forgiveness of Self

Most of us have a hard time forgiving ourselves. I know I’m guilty of this. Sometimes I look back at my previous employers and think, “Why did it take me so long to leave?” My freelance work isn’t exempt either, “Why didn’t you negotiate for better terms?” or “You spent so much time on that one project with nothing to show for it.” I have to let this aggravation go and commit to the understanding that I did what I knew best to do at that time. I have to forgive myself for not learning lessons as swiftly as I would have hoped.

From the vantage point of the present, some past behaviors on my end seem immature and not indicative of who I am now. I have to forgive myself for this as well. So whether you forgive yourself for selling yourself short, not speaking up and making your voice heard, not advocating for yourself and your skill set, staying with toxic employers, or working yourself to the bone while neglecting your personal life, you probably need a healthy dose of forgiveness, and it starts with you.

Photo by Caique Silva on Unsplash