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What’s known about forgiveness

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

The science on forgiveness only dates back to 1989. Here’s some of what’s known:

  • People are more likely to forgive loved ones than public figures.
  • No offense is unforgivable, although betrayal is harder to forgive and different people are more or less forgiving.
  • Forgiveness takes various forms. Some people decide to forgive; it’s more external than emotional forgiveness, which is internal.
  • Forgiveness comes more easily to children.
  • Carrying a grudge literally weighs you down. People who forgave someone jumped 11.8 inches, compared with people who wrote about their grudges, who jumped 8.5 inches.
  • Absolution is better for your heart, but you can’t fake it.
  • Asking for forgiveness works—eventually.
  • So far, domestic cats have shown no signs of conciliatory behavior.

—Adapted from “Sorry, We’re Human,” Melissa Dahl, New York.

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