To err is human, to forgive, divine

Nelson Mandela

“Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear.
That’s why it is such a powerful weapon”
Nelson Mandela 1918 – 2013

“to err is human, to forgive ..divine”

Of all the relationship building aspects in the Advanced Relationship Test – can you guess which one comes bottom with people more often?  It’s Non-Judgement.

We all judge others

This means that if there’s one TIP most of us need to build relationship skills – it’s ‘to judge less’. Just ‘let it go’ – live in the moment – not in the past.  Like most things this may be easier said than done but here are some positive steps you can take to work and live freer through forgiveness.

Step one: Take notice

The first step is to ‘notice’ when we judge someone unfairly. Have we jumped in, pre-judged or are we about to? What made you do this? Do you have evidence or good reason?

Step two: Ask yourself if you’ve ever done it

When we point at someone it’s no co-incidence that three of our own fingers point back at ourselves! This is interesting as when we judge someone for something they’ve said or done we’ve probably done that exact thing ourselves. Or if we spend a moment asking some searching questions, we can generally better understand that behaviour, even if we don’t completely condone it. This takes both honesty and humility and not a little empathy for someone else.

Step three: Become aware of what we do that others might frown upon

Even if our judgement of someone passes the two tests of honesty and empathy – i.e. we’ve never done it, would never do it and find it very hard to find reasonable empathy for them – there are almost certainly things we do ourselves – that others would deem similarly unfit, unfair or beneath them. We have different value systems and we often hold different things as important. And life would be a lot easier if we accept these differences a little more. It’s worth reminding ourselves of our own idiosyncrasies that other people are putting up with every day.

Step four: Know that we all mess up

And when someone messes up – they know it most of the time – and they’re generally not in the mood to be reminded of their error or mistake. Could you imagine what a relief it is to have someone else say ‘it’s fine’ , we all make mistakes. To be forgiven – or at least to have someone simply breeze over our mistakes feels so good. To have someone accept our mistakes and even make excuses for them for us is a powerful way to show you do not judge. Life is becoming unforgiving enough in many ways – so a person who supports us when we mess up is highly valued.

Step five: Show people that it’s ok to make minor slips – it’s human

People really appreciate try it! You’ll be giving someone a great gift and yourself an even bigger one, because on some level you’ll be forgiving yourself too. Not to mention that people love being around forgiving people. Tell people it’s fine and there’s not need to worry and mean it, because let’s face it most mistakes aren’t actually that serious. It’s nice not to feel judged and someday soon you may receive the same in return.

It creates better work environments

It also helps us live freer, happier lives to know we can take calculated risks or really give something a good go knowing others are forgiving. Work cultures that look for issues and where people feel they have to protect their backs all the time do not engender best effort or taking of small risks. These stagnant environments don’t promote personal or organisational performance.

It’s these cultures of forgiveness and low judgement that breed great and successful working environments if built carefully within frameworks of trust and support.

That’s why it’s so true… “to err is human, to forgive ..divine”


Article by EQworks CEO Philip Gimmack. Philip has been testing and building EQ in leaders and teams for 18 years. He coaches corporate and private clients across London. Contact him today on 0208 455 6575 or


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