Tips on how to apologize

Sorry by HypnoArt is in the public domain (CC0 1.0)

Let’s face it, we all goof up sometimes whether by insulting a client, dropping the ball on a project, or the good ol’ engage mouth before engaging brain routine.

To repair the damage, especially in the work environment, an apology is needed.

The Journal of Accountancy on 9/25/17 offered some great suggestions on How to make a professional apology.

Here are a few of the multiple tips suggested.

Own the issue. You and I need to take responsibility to fix the mess that we made.

Move as quickly as you can, allowing for times when the other party needs to have a moment to cool down. Even then, move quickly.

Make the apology about you. Use “I” statements and avoid “you”. If you bring the other party into the apology it isn’t a good apology. This avoids the situation of apologizing for the other person’s feelings.

The standard in our society of “I’m sorry you were offended” actually makes the other person’s feelings the problem. What that actually means is the other person somehow managed to improperly take offense and what you really mean is you are sorry that they took the offense at a statement which is obviously innocuous.

Don’t make excuses. The other party doesn’t really want to hear about all the pressures you are under, so don’t bring that in to the discussion. One particular risk I see here is if there is discussion of all the other projects going on, the message just might be heard as the client isn’t particularly important to you.

Check out the article for a longer explanation. It will come in handy someday.

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