Author Archives: Kappa Omicron Nu

Forgiveness in the workplace

—Tonya Ricklefs

With the start of a new year, you hear about new starts and sometimes the importance of forgiveness of old wounds. One area of forgiveness we do not often talk about is forgiveness at work and in your professional life. We sometimes consider “letting go” or moving forwards our personal life, but why would we want to forgive others we work with?


In an article about workplace forgiveness, Michael Stone summarizes why workplace forgiveness is hard to achieve, the competitive nature of many workplaces does not encourage “letting people off the hook”.  Plus, if you were trying to compete for resources such as raises or other perks, it is hard to forgive when you are trying to achieve a competitive edge. It is hard to let your guard down and feel like you are not “prepared” for what may happen at work from others.

So, how would you go about doing this? In some cases, people will suggest that you go to the person that you want to forgive and let them know you will forgive them.  Sometimes though, going to a co-worker and saying “I forgive you for…” can come across as a bit arrogant and can actually cause more problems in the workplace environment. The other individual may feel they did nothing wrong. According to Psychology Today, the multiple steps of forgiveness are things you do yourself and for yourself. The benefit to doing it for yourself may just lead to you as an individual looking at your work situation differently.

Encouraging forgiveness in the workplace often will increase productivity and team building.  The benefits of encouraging forgiveness in the workplace extend beyond the opportunities for a more cooperative environment.  Forgiving co-workers who you believe have taken advantage of you or harmed you in some way also benefits you as an individual.  People who have forgiven others for “wrongs” usually report a greater sense of happiness or peace.

It is important to note that forgiveness is distinctly different than letting someone walk all over you.  You can forgive someone without allowing him or her to continue to hurt or take advantage of you.   You can choose to not hold onto old grudges or “hurts”, and still try to work with others to improve your work environment together.  Letting go of old frustration will make it easier to negotiate with others to a satisfactory resolution that works everyone at work.  And, if you choose to move onto another work opportunity that works better for you, forgiveness allows you to start over without the baggage that you may bring with your from your other workplace experiences. Here’s to you and a fresh slate for the New Year and those you work with.


Mitchell, M. (2013, January 14). 9 steps to forgiveness. Psychology Today

Stone, M. (2002). Forgiveness in the workplace. Industrial and Commercial Training, 34(7), 278-286. Retrieved January 6, 2015, from in the workplace.pdf