A little girl was being admonished by her mother for throwing sand in a the face of a playmate. "Now you do over there and apologize," the mother demanded.I came across this little story in a book by Will Schutz called Profound Simplicity. The author points out the attempt of the mother to impose societies values on the little girl. "Lie" the little girl is told. "Not only lie, but lie in a way that people don't know you are lying."
"No, I won't," the little girl replied. "I'm not sorry I did it. I don't like her."
The mother persisted louder. The daughter acquiesced . She sulked over to her victim and said, cursorily, "I'm sorry," then ran back.
"No, that's not good enough." declared her mother. "You go back and tell her you're sorry - as if you meant it."
What concerns me is that the mother thought she was doing "right" - teaching her daughter good manners - absolutely unaware that the underlying message was quite a different one. Her reaction was one that is probably typical of most parents - I could see myself doing the same sort of thing some years ago.
There is a generic lesson here. We all need to think hard about our "spontaneous" responses. Often our interventions - with all the best of intentions - in our personal and business lives don't improve matters but make things worse and we move on blindly "unaware" of the damage we have done.