The Four Hardest Words You’ve Never Said

I had a sinking feeling when the radio interview was over. I’m always critical of my performance, but this time something didn’t feel right.

Radio interviews are becoming common and I didn’t want to live with the story I was making up in my head.

forgiveness quote


I sent the show’s host an email.

“… I feel like I didn’t move the conversation along well. But, before I went too far, I wonder if you have any feedback…”


“…I did a poor job of leading today’s interview…Will you forgive me?!.!”


The words, “Will you forgive me,” get stuck somewhere between the heart and the head. Just the thought of saying, “Will you forgive me,” makes me think of reasons I don’t need to say it.

I’m filled with respect for a person with the courage and integrity to use the four hardest words I can think of.

My reply:

I thought the host did a fine job.

I was ready to fire off a quick email that said, no big deal. But those four words, at the end of his email, called for a better response.

Ultimately, I included this in my reply:

“I did not take offense, but, when someone asks for forgiveness, I feel it’s important to extend it. You’re forgiven. I find forgiveness, both in the asking and in the giving, a humbling thing.”

Asking forgiveness:

  1. Is taking responsibility for your side of a failure or offense, without excusing or accusing another.
  2. Invites improvement next time.
  3. Isn’t saying, “I’m sorry.” “I’m sorry,” is a pathetic substitute for, “Will you forgive me.”
  4. Feels vulnerable, but protecting your status diminishes others.
  5. Inspires a culture of integrity. We see through people who pretend to have it all together.

Leaders who forgive say, “Let’s start again.”

What concerns you about asking for forgiveness?

**Next radio interview is Thursday, 4/17 on WJOB1230 (Chicago area) at 6:00 p.m. EDT. (Join me. It streams on the Internet.)