Tag Archives: Communicate

The Art of the Apology

17 Jan

Your feelings are hurt.  You’ve been thinking about it for days.  Finally, the person who upset you approaches.

“I guess I owe you an apology,” they say.  “So, I’m sorry if what I said offended you.  I didn’t really mean it like that.  Ok?”

Ok?   “Well…not really, ” you want to say.

But, the conversation is over.  Apology given.   Do you feel better now?  Do you feel understood?

Of course not.

Let’s face it.  We all make mistakes.  It’s important to recognize, however, that an apology is an opportunity.   An opportunity to turn a simple screw up into a chance to show what you’re really made of.   An effective apology speaks volumes as to your character, your sincerity, your compassion and, ultimately, your ability to successfully do business (effective business) with others.

Remember a few simple rules when you craft your next apology.

P.   Prepare.  Don’t walk into an apology just to get it over with.  If you’ve hurt someone’s feelings or made someone mad, show them that you’ve been thinking about what you did.

R.   Recap.  It’s important that you show that you know precisely where you went wrong so that whomever you upset knows you won’t do it again.  For example, “I know that I was out of line during Monday’s meeting when I didn’t recognize your contribution to the project.   I’m sorry for doing that.”

E.    Express your desire to make amends.  If you can fix it, let them know your plans to do so.  If you can’t, let them know what you’ll do next time.  “I’d really like to make it up to you.  I plan to send an email to the team letting them know the extent of your contributions.”

S.   Skip the excuses.  Even if you were having a terrible morning that led to your mistake, it simply doesn’t matter in your apology.   Excuses only take away from your own sincerity.   Leave ‘em out.

S.   Stop.   Sit down.  Then, speak.   If you ensure that your apology is delivered one-on-one, seat-to-seat, you show that your message (and its recipient) deserve your complete attention.

As with all effective communications, there is Art to an apology.    Don’t be the kind of person that hands over a Crayola scribble.  Give ‘em a Rembrandt they’ll remember.