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Apology Accepted

Thursday, May 07, 2015   By Mike Reddy


Apology Accepted

In business it is vital to learn this skill, and learn it early. Learn how to say “I’m Sorry”.

That being said, any business owner should hone this skill, as at some point (most likely many points) they may also have to issue an apology to a teammate, co-worker or employee.

Not only is it imperative to know how to do it, but it’s even more crucial to know how to do it right.

To start - never attack an apology without a strategy! Three things to remember when strategising said apology:

  • Empathy. Different than sympathy, empathy encourages us to understand and engage with the offended party without pity. It is possible to offend someone and not understand how you did it- but you can still employ empathy to the fact that they now feel uneasy.

  • Aim to problem solve. The actual words “I’m sorry” are just that - words. They need to come with a resolution, a plan, and a peace offering even. Within the apology must exist a suggestion that leads toward resolution, even if one cannot be met. The intent must be there or the apology reads as superficial and without meaning.

  • Keep calm and avoid further conflict. Apologies are sensitive. Someone was hurt, insulted, offended, brought down, lost face, and embarrassed. These are difficult to deal with in the workplace as we may not understand how others deal with such emotions.

Bring in an HR consultant. A third-party mediator can assist in keeping tempers low and may help with identifying the reason for the misunderstanding. That, in itself, could improve communication in the future.

Apologies are time-sensitive. The minute you sense a mistake has been made, get out in front of it, take responsibility and offer the sincerest of apologies.

Provide an immediate solution, along with a long-term solution (i.e. staff meeting to discuss handling of customer-relationships, account disputes or delegation). Apologies must come with a sense of relief at being heard as well as the assurance that the said incident is unlikely to occur again.

More tips:

  1. 1.  Do not place blame or point the finger.
  2. 2.  Be humble and sincere or don’t be there at all!
  3. 3.  Avoid making excuses, simply accept responsibility.
  4. 4.  Clearly and decisively offer a solution.

Apologies have the power to make or break your reputation, big or small business.

Handle with care!

Mike Reddy is a Chartered Accountant, business coach and advisor helping businesses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast to easily increase their profits and cash flow. He is currently President of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, a Regional Councillor for Sydney North East and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sydney leadership team. As well as advising businesses, Mike presents business development seminars and webinars and is regularly contacted by the media to comment on small business matters. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.