“Mumma, what are magic words?” asked Joey.
“There are three magic words – Thank you, Please and Sorry. And you know where to use which magic words, right?” I asked.
“Yes, but why are they called magic words?” Joey asked again.
“Because whenever you say these words, it does magic on the other person and other person feels very good. And in turn that gives you happiness too.” I tried to explain…
“Ok mumma, I will try to use them.” he ran away immediately after uttering these words…
The same evening when Joey had a fight with a friend over sharing his favorite, he apparently hit one of his friends who went crying back home. When I asked him to say “Sorry”, he stomped his feet, shouted on me and started crying hysterically. Well, these are the everyday stories of being a mother.
Later when he calmed down –
“Joey, why didn’t use the magic word when I asked you to? You know your friend would have felt so much better if you would have.” I told him gently…
“Mumma, I don’t like ‘Sorry’ word. I like the other two, but not this one.” He told me innocently.
“Why is that?” I asked him hoping that I don’t probe him too much.
“I don’t know.” He looked at me expecting that maybe I know why he doesn’t like just this magic word.
“You know what, it is difficult to use this magic word. Because this magic word makes you realize that you did something bad. It makes you feel guilty (I know for sure he doesn’t know what this word means). And you have to say it when probably you are getting too angry or frustrated with the other person. That’s why you don’t like it.” I told him almost sure he didn’t understand.
“Then why do I have to use it?” this time he asked with tears in his eyes.
“Because as soon as you use it, you will feel much better. And you can be friends again with your best friend. Isn’t it? Do you want to play with your friend again?” I asked
“Then you have to give up your anger and apologize to him. Once you do that, he will also become happy and you can be friends again.” I told him
He called up his friend immediately and apologized. It hardly took 30 seconds for them to reconcile and they were back again to being best friends. They are just two 4-year-old boys who struggle to get over their anger and ego to apologize.
At work, we follow agile methodology of software development. That basically means that we plan the work only for 2 weeks and at the end of the two weeks, the whole team meets and discusses what went really well in last two weeks and what could have been improved. It is also an opportunity for the team to appreciate each other.
My role in the team is to define the plan for these two weeks and set the right priorities for the team. So, if I mess up – the team ends up working on something that might not be needed. And I do have messed up at times which made the team suffer. It isn’t a good place to be at. And when such things happen, I dread the session at the end of the 2 weeks. Because I know that I would be put on the spot and will be questioned on my decisions.
To prep for these sessions, I only tell myself that “It is ok to mess up, but it absolutely not ok to make excuses for it. If I messed up, I need to own it up and apologize and take the corrective actions. There is nothing else that I can do better to rectify.”
Every single time that I have owned up my issues and decisions – it has worked wonders. Sometimes working with other teams, I really struggle when another person is not ready to own it up. You got to own up and apologize – that is the only way forward. Otherwise, it is only a blame game and we adults look worse than the two 4-year-old boys who keep blaming each other for not sharing, snatching and hitting. Somebody needs to tell us, adults, that magic words really work – use them appropriately and you will save so much time and energy.