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“The Science of Forgiveness” by Steve Coomber

Conflict situations at the workplace can negatively affect the team, as well as its member. Conflicts provoke stress, which is a common reason for absence from work, and it can lead to the dismissal of staff and an employee shortage. For these reasons, managers must promote favorable relations between workers. At the same time, one of the complex tasks is to solve disputes. Gabrielle Adams, Assistant Professor, who studies organizational behavior, devoted several works to conflict resolution issues. Steve Coomber, in his article “The Science of Forgiveness,” examines her research on such aspects as forgiveness and its impact on people’s interactions. Despite the positive image of the forgiveness act, it does not always favorably affect human relations.

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Forgiveness is traditionally seen as profitable behavior for any person. Adams decided to test its versatility and, with colleagues conducted several experiments (Comber 10). In the first study, a particular person questioned innocent participants’ honesty, then either forgave them or said nothing. As a result, the people he forgave had a desire to avoid him more than those he ignored. In the second experiment, participants gave a stranger (actually a computer program) one or four of their five available lottery tickets and received a message of forgiveness. All the participants who gave tickets wanted to avoid the person who sent them a message, but those who gave more tickets had a stronger desire (Coomber 10). Finally, the last experiment suggested participants consider a conflict work situation and answer how they would respond to a colleague’s forgiveness. All three experiments proved that if a person did nothing wrong but received forgiveness, it would worsen the relationship, but if there was wrongdoing, it would improve interactions.

The forgiveness given for no reason produces an adverse effect since, in this way, it seems that people consider themselves better than others. The problem may also be when the misconduct was indeed, but the culprits do not feel their wrong. In response to such injustices, managers should focus on helping the victim. Adams also notes that in some cases having a strong desire to forgive someone who does not ask about it, a person may do it, but not tell the second party (qtd. in Coomber 11). Thus, employees need to be careful in expressing their forgiveness.

My experience of forgiveness is not wide enough to confirm the results of the experiments. My observations come down to the fact that someone usually asks for forgiveness during personal interactions and then receives it. I have not yet witnessed the initiation of forgiveness without a request. Representing myself among the participants in Adams’s experiment, I am sure that I would also experience negative feelings. I can use this knowledge in practice in the future, expressing forgiveness only to those who sincerely want it. This desire does not mean that I will keep the offense for a long time, but I can leave forgiveness to myself.

In conclusion, conflict situations generate stress and negatively affect people, in particular their behavior at work. Forgiveness is considered one of the traditional methods of solving negative interactions and beneficial behavior. The author of “The Science of Forgiveness” examines a study in which scientists investigate whether forgiveness has only a positive effect. The results show that expressing forgiveness to a person who does not feel guilty can only worsen the relationship’s quality, and positive influence is possible only when the culprit wants to be forgiven. For these reasons, it is necessary to consider the expression of forgiveness carefully, and in some cases, not to speak about it.

Work Cited

Coomber, Steve. “The Science of Forgiveness.” London Business School Review, vol. 26, no. 2, 2015, pp. 8-11.

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