For the Sin…at Work

At sundown, Yom Kippur — the Day of Atonement — will be observed around the world by the Jewish people.

It is customary, during the more than twenty-four hours, to refrain from eating and drinking. It is customary to attend synagogue services and recite from liturgy that encourages our thoughts to reflect on the intent of the day. It also is customary to deprive oneself of earthly desires. Self-denial in a variety of ways is supposed to drive self-reflection. The bottom line? Yom Kippur provides the opportunity to review our attitudes and/or behaviors and improve them in the year to come.

It’s impossible, however, to focus on oneself — what we think, say, or do — without looking at ourselves vis a vis others. How are our relationships with family? Friends? Acquaintances? Co-workers? What about the people we randomly encounter in stores, restaurants, airports, movie theaters, hotels, etc.? While the number of people we encounter through any given year may be large, the way we treat and/or interact with them may, in fact, be fairly consistent and predictable. Do we greet others with smiles and friendly attitudes or are we dismissive and moody? What drives one approach versus the other? Do we ever consider how our responses — on way or the other — make others feel?

On the flip side, how do our encounters with others — in person, over the phone, via email, or on social media — make us feel? More importantly, how do we respond when others treat us badly or inappropriately? It is with this latter category of questions that I intend wrestle this Yom Kippur.

I’ve been extremely work-focused lately. As part of my job, I fundamentally know I cannot control the way someone feels about or treats me. Since I work in the travel industry, for example, I know my job is about understanding and meeting (preferably exceeding) a client’s needs and expectations. But, no matter how hard I personally may try, there are some people (suppliers, colleagues, clients, etc.) with whom I cannot get along or satisfy. I cannot control their thoughts, behaviors, or attitudes. They are what they are.

That said, I must better control my own reactions or responses (and avoid setting a bad example for others) to those who treat me unprofessionally or poorly, despite my best intentions. And it is here I ask forgiveness and vow to do better this coming year…

  • For the sin of rolling my eyes in front of others;
  • And for the sin of cursing out loud in the office.
  • For the sin of sending nasty emails out of anger or frustration;
  • And for the sin of ranting and raving in the presence or ear-shot of others.
  • For the sin of not picking up the phone immediately to discuss a difficult situation;
  • And for the sin of juggling too many balls, dropping a few, and not asking for help.
  • For the sin of beating around the bush and just hoping a problem will go away;
  • And for the sin of taking on a project that my gut tells me not to.
  • For the sin of not calling out a nasty client who abuses my colleagues;
  • And for the sin of gossiping about clients, suppliers, or co-workers instead of working proactively to resolve issues or discontinuing the business relationship with them if I cannot.
  • For the sin of not debriefing successful and unsuccessful endeavors for the sake of learning from each;
  • And for the sin of not asking more often how I might be a better partner, co-worker, and provider.

For all these and more, I apologize to those I may have wronged or offended in my business world.

I ask my higher power to grant me more wisdom, patience, and understanding as I utilize knowledge and skills — attitudes and behaviors — to do better each day….ultimately to create positive, memorable, and meaningful experiences for others.

And to those of you who still respect, appreciate, or want to work with me despite my shortcomings, thank you for being part of my journey.