I want to share this article by Ann Brown at MadameNoire. It went live on April 16, 2015. If apologizing doesn’t come easy to you or someone you are mentoring, I think you’ll find this article presents a very down-to-earth approach.
Rapper/designer/frequent hot head Kanye West recently settled a lawsuit with a paparazzi photographer he assaulted and one of the caveats was an apology from the hip-hop star, which West provided.
Sometimes you just have to say sorry, even on the job. An apology in the workplace can go a really long way.
“I believe that apologies are very important when you have made a mistake or hurt someone’s feelings. I do not believe that needing to make an apology means that you are incompetent. How you apologize does make a difference,” says Susan Bender Phelps of Odyssey Mentoring & Leadership and author of Aspire Higher.
So how should you apologize? “You first need to clarify in your mind what went wrong. Was it a simple error? Did you not realize it at the time, or did you know and hope you would not get caught? Is it something you feel bad about something that is likely to occur again? And think about its effect. Was it no big deal shoulder shrugs for the person or was it or a heartbreaking mistake. You can’t apologize effectively if you don’t know what you are apologizing for?” body language expert Patti Wood of Snap First Impressions and author of Conflict Cure, tells MadameNoire.
Before you apologize, you will have to “let go of your desire to win, be right, or make an excuse,” says Woods.
When apologizing actually say “I’m sorry.“
“You can say, ‘I apologize,’ or ‘I am sorry.’ Or my personal favorite, ‘I am sorry, I messed up,’” says Wood. “In order to sound professional you must keep your message clear and free of the ‘buts.’ So don’t say, ‘I’m sorry, but I had to take that phone call it was really important.’” Instead of excuses, accept responsibility for your mistake.
And be sincere in your apology. People can tell if you’re faking it. “Make sure your voice, facial expressions and body language are sending the same message as your words,” advises Wood.
Also, keep in mind there may be consequences to you actions. “Understand what forgiveness means. When I forgive you, it means that I declare that I am no longer hurt or harmed by what you have done. That does not mean that there will not be consequences or that I don’t hold you responsible for your actions,” Phelps tells MadameNoire. “When you apologize, never say, ‘If I have hurt you…’ Instead say, ‘I know that what I have done hurt you, caused damage, is a problem (whatever applies). I am responsible for my actions or for making this mistake. I ask you to forgive me. I hope you can and will. In the future, you can count on me…this will not happen again. I know that it will take time to rebuild the trust between us. I will work to make that happen.’”
Apologizing won’t make you seem weak, quite the opposite. It make your co-workers realize you are a team player who they can trust to take responsibility for your actions. “Remember, we all make mistakes. Our greatest life lessons generally come out of how we recover from those mistakes and how well we accept the consequences of our actions,” says Phelps.