Last week, thousands of people gathered at a rally in Washington, D.C. Whether you agree or disagree with their position, we all have the right to protest.

Some later decided to force their way past police and security and entered the Capitol building where lawmakers were debating the counting of electoral college votes. What happened next was tragic, and those who broke the law should be prosecuted.

Others lost their jobs as a result of their participation. (While it's perfectly reasonable to disagree with what they did, I'm not sure firing people is the best response.)

Hold that thought.

When I was a child and did something wrong, my parents didn't get mad. They didn't yell. They didn't discipline.

They just showed their disappointment. In me.

And boy, did that suck. I hated disappointing them.

And I never got to get mad back. I never got to feel unfairly treated. In my head, I never got to shift the focus off me and onto the harshness of the punishment. All I could do is marinate in what I had done.

Which, in terms of behavior and attitude change, worked a treat. 

The same is true where employees are concerned. 

When your employees make a mistake, it's natural to try to make sure they don't make the same mistake again. So you give feedback. You correct. You discipline. 

Yet heavy-handed discipline can often shift the focus off the underlying event and onto the disciplinary action.

As with my parents, get punished too severely and it's natural to dwell on how "unfair" the punishment is -- instead of on correcting what we did to deserve the feedback, the correction, or the discipline.

Most employees are their own worst critics. The employee who shipped the wrong product? He knows he messed up; he already feels bad about it. The employee who gave a customer an inaccurate proposal? She knows she messed up; she already feels bad about it.

Neither will forget what happened -- and both will try really hard to make sure it never happens again.

That's the outcome you hope for. 

And that's why, sometimes, the best thing you can do is look an employee in the eye, nod, and walk away.

After all, your only goal is that the employee to learn from a mistake. The act of forgiveness is often much more powerful than any act of discipline can ever be.

Just like, in broader terms, ensuring you express your feelings, your opinion, your disagreement, etc. in such a way that people can only focus on what you have to say.

Instead of the way you chose to say it.