One of the skills I learned early on as an entrepreneur was how to apologize the right way.
Learning how to say sorry quickly when things go wrong and acknowledging sincerely how my actions, had a part often helps smooth things over with clients and our team.
I’ve even designed Citrus Studios branded MEA CULPA and CNTRL +. Z note cards in anticipation of potential mistakes. We also keep a list of go-to companies for gifts to help appease clients when things go unexpectedly and unintentionally wrong.
Here are some easy steps to help you learn how to apologize sincerely and effectively.
1. Know Why You’re Apologizing
When you’ve made a mistake or hurt another person, there are many good reasons why you should apologize.
By apologizing, you are able to:
- Acknowledge that you were wrong.
- Express your regret and remorse.
- Open up a line of communication with the other person.
- Learn from your mistakes and find new ways of dealing with difficult situations.
Research suggests that people don’t apologize because:
1) they aren’t concerned about the other person
2) apologizing threatens their own self-image, or
3) they believe that an apology won’t do any good anyway. (so why bother?)
2. Own It
I recently heard Diane von Furstenberg give a talk about her new book Own It. DVF didn’t know what she wanted to do, but she knew who she wanted to be. She wanted to be the woman “in charge”.
People in charge, “own it”.
They take full responsibility.
To me, that means, not shifting the blame, acknowledging your part, apologizing right away, and being specific (not vague) about what you’re sorry for.
Owning it also means taking the time to self-reflect, and understand how you got into the unfortunate situation in the first place and doing your best to avoid it in the future.
If there’s anything you can do to make amends, do it.
Whatever you can do to make things better, do it.
If you broke something, offer to fix it.
Take the necessary actions to make things right.
When you expect that every interaction you have won’t be perfect and learn to share these expectations with clients it helps build a strong foundation for a long-term relationship.
Not apologizing when you are wrong can be damaging to your personal and professional relationships. It can also lead to rumination, anger, resentment, and hostility that may only grow over time.
Apologies aren’t easy but can be important in mending relationships. With an open heart and a chunk of courage, you can take the steps to make a sincere apology.
Whom do you need to apologize to today?
How do you maintain your important relationships?
I’d love to hear from you!