ERG: Step 9 – Extend Grace When ERG Occurs
Approaching the ninth step in our Expectation Reality Gap (ERG) series, we focus on a compassionate and vital response: Extending Grace When ERG Occurs. This step is about responding with understanding and forgiveness when expectations are not met, whether it involves ourselves or others.
The Power of Grace and Forgiveness
Colossians 3:13-14, “13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Colossians 3:13 is a powerful reminder of the importance of forgiveness. When we forgive others, we are not only setting them free, but we are also setting ourselves free. Holding on to anger and resentment only hurts us in the long run. Forgiveness is a gift that we give to ourselves as well as to others.
Forgiveness is not always easy. It can be difficult to let go of the pain and hurt that someone has caused us. However, forgiveness is essential for our emotional and spiritual health. When we forgive, we are not saying that what the other person did was okay. We are simply choosing to let go of the anger and resentment that is poisoning our hearts.
Forgiveness is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort. But it is worth it. Forgiveness frees us from the burden of carrying around anger and resentment. It allows us to move on with our lives and to have healthy relationships.
The Lord forgave us when we were sinners. He did not hold our sins against us. He showed us grace and mercy. In the same way, we should forgive others who have wronged us. We should not hold their sins against them. We should show them grace and mercy.
Forgiveness is not easy, but it is necessary. It is essential for our emotional and spiritual health. When we forgive, we are not only setting others free, but we are also setting ourselves free.
Personal Example: Overlooked Anniversary
In a personal relationship, an overlooked anniversary or a forgotten promise can create an ERG. It’s natural to feel hurt or disappointed, but extending grace means choosing to understand and forgive. In my own life, when my wife once scheduled a work event on our anniversary, I chose to extend grace, recognizing the unusual circumstances and the effort usually put into our relationship. This response paved the way for a heartfelt apology and a meaningful, albeit belated, celebration.
There are many other examples of ERGs in personal relationships. For example, a partner may say something hurtful in the heat of the moment, or they may fail to meet a commitment they made. In these situations, it’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes, and that extending grace can help to repair the relationship.
Of course, there are boundaries that might need to be placed in your life. If a partner is consistently abusive or neglectful, it may be necessary to make some adjustments and talk to the right people to help. But in most cases, extending grace can help to strengthen a relationship and make it more resilient in the face of future challenges.
Workplace Scenario: Missed Project Deadline
In a work setting, it is important to address the issue of a team member missing a project deadline. However, it is also important to respond with grace and understanding. This approach can lead to a more productive discussion on what went wrong and how to prevent similar situations in the future. A positive work environment fosters accountability and growth, which are essential for a successful team.
When a team member misses a deadline, it is natural to feel frustrated or angry. However, it is important to remember that everyone makes mistakes. Reacting with hostility or anger will only serve to make the situation worse. Instead, take a deep breath and try to approach the situation from a place of understanding.
Ask the team member why they missed the deadline. There may be a valid reason, such as an unexpected illness or a family emergency. Once you understand the reason, you can work together to find a solution.
It is also important to offer support to the team member. Let them know that you are there for them and that you want to help them succeed. This will help to create a positive work environment and encourage accountability and growth.
By responding with grace and understanding, you can turn a negative situation into a positive one. You can help the team member learn from their mistake and prevent it from happening again. You can also create a positive work environment that fosters accountability and growth.
Differentiating Between One-Time Lapses and Repeated Patterns
It is important to distinguish between a one-time failure to meet expectations and a repeated pattern. While grace should be our first response, if the failure becomes recurrent, it is time to revisit earlier steps in the ERG series. This involves having clarifying conversations, realigning expectations with reality, and making necessary adjustments.
A one-time failure may be due to a number of factors, such as:
A misunderstanding of the expectations
A lack of resources or support
An unexpected event
In these cases, it is important to have a clarifying conversation with the employee to understand what happened and why. Once the misunderstanding is cleared up or the resources are provided, the employee should be able to meet expectations in the future.
However, if the failure becomes a repeated pattern, it is likely that there is a deeper issue at play. The employee may not be capable of meeting the expectations, or they may not be motivated to do so. In these cases, it is necessary to realign expectations with reality. This may mean setting lower expectations that align with the reality of the situation, or it may mean providing the employee with additional training or support.
It is also important to make necessary adjustments to the work environment. If the employee is struggling to meet expectations because of a lack of resources or support, then the employer needs to take steps to address those issues.
By taking these steps, employers can help to ensure that employees are successful and that expectations are met.
5 Strategies for Extending Grace
Practice Empathy: Try to understand the situation from the other person’s perspective. Empathy can often lead to a more gracious response.
Communicate Openly: Address the unmet expectation without blame or criticism. Use it as an opportunity for open dialogue and mutual learning.
Focus on Solutions, Not Blame: Instead of dwelling on who’s at fault, focus on finding solutions and ways to prevent similar issues in the future.
Self-Compassion: If you are the one who has not met expectations, practice self-compassion. Acknowledge your mistake, learn from it, and move forward.
Revisit and Realign Expectations: If there’s a pattern of unmet expectations, revisit the earlier steps in the ERG series. Discuss and realign expectations to better match the reality of the situation.
Extending grace when expectations are not met is a profound way to handle disappointments. It promotes understanding, growth, and positive change, both in personal relationships and in professional settings. As we move forward in the ERG series, our final step will involve continual re-evaluation and adjustment of our expectations, ensuring they remain realistic and aligned with our goals and values.
For the other articles in the ERG Blog Series Click Here.