Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Invest in forgiveness for growth: 'Use your words!

Published:Sunday | February 7, 2016 | 12:00 AM

This week we continue looking at the impact of unmet needs leading to conflict and the related lack of forgiveness on the individual, family, organisation and wider community.

Negative impact includes health issues, violence, abuse, failure to cooperate, subtle undermining and outright resistance. Quantifying the impact in economic and societal health terms would highlight the magnitude of the problem and make the case for investing to address it.

What's the nature of the required investment?

1. Raise awareness.

Say, I decide to reduce my expenditure on utilities, and I change my bulbs to energy efficient ones.

However, I am unaware of my leaking toilets and my water bill wipes out the energy savings.

Failing to address unmet needs and forgiveness is the equivalent of ignoring a leak. We must invest time and resources in getting the message across that resolving conflicts is an essential ingredient in the quest for development.

2. Check for leaks

Conducting an energy or water consumption audit makes sense. Similarly, uncovering unresolved conflict and unmet needs can produce outstanding results. The "people factor" makes all the difference in any sphere of endeavour. Taking action to remove hindrances to effective co-operation improves the chances of success.

3. Identify the Human Capital leaks

Unearthing unmet needs, discovering hidden and open conflicts and detecting a failure to cooperate arising from the absence of forgiveness are essential yet missing components of developmental plans.

How are human capital leaks identified?

A. Employee Satisfaction Surveys


A quick and cost effective way to get a sense of unmet needs is to conduct an Employee Satisfaction Survey. Some may not respond and others may not express their true feelings. However, carefully crafted questionnaires delivered electronically by third-parties make a difference through convenience and confidentiality.

Another major reason for not responding, is the feeling that nothing will be done with the feedback. Leaders can improve results by admitting their past inattentiveness and making credible commitments to place real value on this feedback.

B. Focus Group Studies

These work best in environments in which there is a high degree of trust. Failing that trustworthy external facilitators should be engaged.

These sessions have the capacity to provide more In-depth information on a smaller range of issues.

C. One-on-One Interaction

In healthy environments, leaders can engage team members in meaningful open dialogue. Non-threatening discourse can address what works well and should be supported - what needs improvement and what are the prioritised actions that need to be taken.

The Core Challenge

At the heart of this issue is a seemingly increasing incapacity to resolve conflict through dialogue. My daughter encourages her two-year old to "Use your words." Instead of crying and throwing a tantrum, express your needs in words.

This is a fundamental principle which if applied in the adult world would dramatically reduce the incidence of violence and charged relationships.

A domino player was killed by his partner in a dispute over making the wrong play. Where is the capacity to thrash out issues openly and freely without resorting to violence or alternatively, withdrawing from positive participation in the process?

Wholesale investment is required in cohesiveness interventions at the family, organisation and community levels where the skills to engage in healthy interaction with others with whom you disagree are taught. The idea that opting for dialogue is a sign of weakness must be debunked. We must learn to agree to disagree amicably and without opting for fight or flight responses.

Bringing about healthy interaction is possible. We achieve outstanding results using behavioural Team Maps to guide work teams to greater levels of cohesion.

Join the mission ... promote forgiveness!

• Trevor E S Smith is a Behaviour Modification & Team Cohesiveness Coach with the Success with People Academy home of the Certified Behavioural Coach award and the 3-D Leader Certification: Leading Difficult People. Both are accredited by SHRM and offer SHRM Professional Development Credits for SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certifications. Register now: info[at]