I’ve told you about my less than graceful reaction during a conversation with a camp coordinator (here) when the bus to camp was over an hour late picking up my kids. After sharing the story with my friend Abby she asked me, “What did your kids learn from you today?” I thought about being defensive for a split second but instead actually thought about the question. It takes a good friend to ask you to reflect on your behavior and the impact it has on those around you. The truth is, not all of us have an Abby at the office who is willing to risk your reaction, so I challenge you to ask yourself: What are people learning from how I’m acting? It’s something that everyone should ask themselves regularly. It helps keep you self-aware. There have been many times I’ve lost it with my kids, and when I’m calm again, I go over to them and say, “I’m really sorry I raised my voice. I’ll try not to do that again. Will you forgive me?” When they’ve seen behavior from me that I’d rather they didn’t learn, I always feel better if I own the situation and am honest with them. You can take this same attitude to the workplace. If you’re in a bad mood and treat someone poorly, don’t ignore it and think it will blow over. Go back to them and take accountability. Of course, apologizing is not an excuse for bad behavior, but people are more tolerant when you own your mistakes. It’s important to forgive yourself, too. When you’re in a crazy/busy/angry/distracted mood, it’s so hard to see past yourself and your feelings. We will not be perfect all the time. Don’t beat yourself up for whatever it was you are not proud of doing. Simply take the perspective of what you learned not to do next time. There is a saying I love, “A mistake is a mistake when you make it twice.” People may be willing to forgive the first time, but repeat behavior is not so easily overlooked.