The Art Of The Apology

We all will need to master the art of the apology, because we all fail, both ourselves and others.  In the heat of business and relationships, if there is not reconciliation, then every relationship is a fragile one step from being over.

When You Mess Up

You are going to mess up.  When you do, here is the process for making amends:

  1. Go To the Person.  This does not mean sending a message through others and passing hints.  Be direct and have some courage.
  2. Apologize Candidly And Specifically. Say what you did wrong.  Put yourself in your victim’s shoes and let them know you understand how you would have felt if wronged likewise.
  3. Ask For Forgiveness. “Would you forgive me,” is one of the hardest things to say.  It is also necessary.  Without it, you don’t have a relationship.  You have a facade.  If they do not forgive, it stops here.  The burden is on the other person.  You are free.
  4. Make Things Right. Ask the important question which speaks to building trust, “What can I do to make things right?”  Broken things cost something.  This will also test whether you are truly sincere about your apology.

It’s not a complicated process.  It is hard.  The challenge likely comes into whether your pride and ego habitually stop you from doing the right thing.  At the end of the day, you are only as successful as your relationships.  Unforgiving relationships don’t work, nor do insincere ones.

My own experience has been that practicing the art of the apology can lead to real depth and strengthen relationships.  You are being human with one another and adjusting expectations to reality rather than the veneers we try to adopt.  It comes down to personal responsibility and caring for others.  Caring only for yourself will always limit you to a small life.

If you wrong someone, it’s easy to be the coward and do what most people do – hide, pretend or get weird.  Hiding behind email, gossip, and self-justification is cowardice.  Stepping up and making things right makes for good business and good relationships.

What has been your experience in relationships regarding apologies?

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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