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Reviewing the Strength of Forgiveness

by | Sep 26, 2023 | Coaching, Strengths

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Forgiveness is one of the four character strengths that comprise the Virtue of Temperance.

Temperance describes strengths that help you manage habits and protect against excess.

What is forgiveness?

Forgiveness means to extend understanding towards those who have wronged or hurt us. It means to let go. In many cases this is the letting go of some or all of the frustration, disappointment, resentment, or other painful feelings associated with an offense. 

Forgiveness, and the related quality of mercy, involve accepting the shortcomings, flaws, and imperfections of others and giving them a second (or third) chance. As the expression goes, it is letting bygones be bygones, rather than being vengeful. It is a process of humanizing those who have led us to feel dehumanized.

It is important to distinguish forgiveness from:

  • condoning (removes the offense)
  • forgetting (removes the awareness)
  • reconciliation (restores the relationship)

Why is forgiveness of value?

  • Partners who characterise their relationship as highly satisfying, committed and close are more likely to forgive when transgressions occur.
  • Forgiveness contributes to productive interpersonal relationships, thriving teamwork, job satisfaction, personal morale, innovative problem-solving, a sense of flexibility when facing changes and productivity.
  • More forgiving people experience less of the negative emotions of anger, anxiety, depression and hostility than do less forgiving people.

A couple of questions to consider

  • How do you reconcile forgiving someone with holding the belief that people should be held accountable for transgressions?
  • As you think about past situations, has it been more challenging to forgive someone at work or at home? Why?

Some things that you can do to practise forgiveness

  • Choose a person against whom you hold a grudge and visualise a conversation in which you practise forgiveness and letting go. 
  • Practise letting go of minor irritants in your life such as someone cutting you off in traffic or feeling slighted because someone ignored you or didn’t consider your feelings.
  • Practise self-forgiveness. Consider a minor wrongdoing and give yourself permission to have made the mistake while committing yourself to doing better in future.

For more information on the strength of forgiveness, go to https://www.viacharacter.org/character-strengths/forgiveness

If you are interested in exploring how the practice of Character Strengths might be of benefit to your business and culture, contact Peter Maguire on 0438 533 311 or at info@poswork.com.au.

Acknowledgement: the primary reference for this post is “The Power of Character Strengths: Appreciate And Ignite Your Positive Personality” by Ryan M. Niemiec & Robert E. McGrath (An Official Guide From The VIA Institute on Character)

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