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When Accountability Talks Go Well

·413 words·2 mins

I was so nervous to tell you that I was upset. Because I’m not one of those people who assume I’m right when my feelings tell me I’ve been wronged. I tend to be suspicious of myself, of my own motives.

Not just because authority figures were that way with me when I was young — though they were — but also because I live in fear of developing the kind of overconfidence that results in my arriving at completely the wrong impression about the world and staying there.

I’ve seen that a lot in other people in the wild… and ooo buddy, do I not want to be that person myself. So I do tend to interrogate feelings that others would just accept and act on.

Anyway, by the time we were able to get together and I was able to tell you what I was upset about, I had a really clear picture of how and why. And I was honest with you. Gentle, firm, and honest.

I wasn’t expecting your reaction at all. You got it. Instantly. You saw why that would upset me. Even admitted that you would probably feel upset if our situations were reversed. And you felt terrible about it. Instantly, you set to work figuring out a way to do better. You announced aloud that you would do better in the future and came up with a plan right then and there.

No defensiveness. No inability to see that it was even a problem. And no perception that I was being whiny, needy, or high maintenance in bringing this up. None of the things I had feared would happen.

What’s even more impressive — and frankly unexpected by me — was later you asked if I forgave you. You still felt bad about what had happened. I was blown away by that. Because I’d already forgotten. I was so relieved that the feedback had been well received, I hadn’t even considered resenting you for it or requiring a process of formal forgiveness.

Imagine my utter shock the next time the same situation came up and you walked yourself through it in front of me. How you wanted to do better, because you’d learned from last time, and how you were going to implement those steps this time around.

I was gobsmacked. Truly.

Looking for a post about how to have an accountability talk? I’ve got you covered — I wrote this one back in the day.


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