Saturday, November 27th, 2021

How-to: Craft the Perfect Apology

By Narges Nirumvala on Mar 07 2011 • Filed under The Power Communicator

"I'm Sorry."

"I am sorry."

Those three little words can bring closure to the most difficult situation and rescue any business relationship from ruin. The ability to apologize is a dying art in today’s hectic world. We avoid it, rush it and over complicate it. The ideal apology is simple and sincere.

Here is how to craft the perfect apology.

Swallow your pride.

There will be times when you need to apologize even when you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong. The married folks among us can attest to this! So swallow your pride and apologize anyway. Perhaps you unintentionally offended a colleague or lost your cool with a particularly high-maintenance customer? Whatever the reason – what matters is the other person’s perception of the situation, not your own.

Use simple language.

Sometimes the simplest language is also the most powerful.“I love you” is a great example of this. When crafting your apology, either in writing or in person, remember that all the other person wants to hear is “I am sorry” or “I apologize.”

Delete the BUT.

If you say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I did anything wrong” or “I’m sorry, but I think you should apologize too,” that’s not an apology! The qualifier negates any good you are trying to do. Another one that often rears its head is, “I think you’re overreacting, but I’m sorry anyway.”

Figure out what you are sorry for.

The only way to successfully augment an apology is with a reason. For example, “I’m sorry for interrupting you during the presentation,” or “I know I upset you yesterday, I’m sorry.” It shows that you have reflected on the situation and appreciate how the other person feels (even if you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong).

Slow down.

If you’re apologizing in person or over the phone, slow down when you say the words. Anything said slowly shows more thought and sincerity. Try it, say anything slowly and you’ll see the difference it makes.

Don’t text it or tweet it.

Some things are private and need to remain that way. The best way to apologize is either in person or over the phone – they need to hear your voice. The next best way is in an email or snail mail card (depending on your preference). Please don’t tweet your apology for the entire world to see or send a cursory text message.

Remember that it takes the same grace to apologize as to accept someone else’s apology. As the cartoonist Lynn Johnston once said, “An apology is the superglue of life. It can repair just about anything.” The ability to apologize needs to be part of any successful business woman’s communications arsenal. Without it your relationships will suffer, but with it, they will stand the test of time.

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