Have you apologized lately?

October 27, 2009


1206706_14773583Why is it difficult for people to say “I’m sorry?” These two simple words are easy to articulate; however, it seems that everyone has the hardest time apologizing. People have difficulties accepting their faults and taking responsibility for their actions. As human beings it is in our nature to be prideful and to see ourselves as perfect people. In my opinion “no one’s perfect.” It is clear that we all make mistakes, say things we do not mean to and regret some of our actions. Everyone has their faults, and we should all swallow our pride and recognize when we need to apologize.

Apologizing can be difficult, but we must remember that it takes a bigger person to apologize for his or her actions. Being the one to apologize and realize your fault shows great maturity. In conflict resolution strategies for PR, an apology is used to develop relationships and strengthen communication. PR practitioners encourage companies to accept their faults and apologize for their wrongdoing.

So how should we apologize? According to Tom O Leary there are five steps to an effective apology. I think his steps work really well.

Five Steps to an Effective Apology:

  • Make your apology genuine. Take responsibility for your actions and show that you want to overcome the problem. Remember, false apologies are easily spotted and can do more harm than good.
  • Do not try and justify your actions. If you continue to ramble on about why you did what you did, it will appear as if you are not apologizing at all. Remember, when you apologize you are swallowing your pride and recognizing your fault.
  • Commit to your apology and make a commitment to change. You want to show the other party involved that you are taking the necessary steps to change.
  • Be aware of how you phrase your apology. Make sure the other party involved understands what you are apologizing for. Don’t fake the apology and expect that every thing will be fine. To keep a relationship it is important to develop open lines of communication and to be honest with one another.
  • Be prepared for the end result. Do not expect that after you apologize the other party will follow with a counter apology. Not everyone reacts the same way after hearing a sincere apology. Just remember that it is out of your hands and you did your part by taking responsibility for your actions.

These five steps to an effective apology are a great resource. Another step that Alexander Kjerulf, a leading expert on happiness at work, suggested was to quickly apologize. The longer a person waits to make an apology, the greater chance there is that the problem will escalate. Alexander Kjerulf makes a valid point because the longer it takes to resolve the problem the wore the problem becomes.

Think about your recent conflicts with friends, family or co-workers. Have you apologized to anyone lately?

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One Response to “Have you apologized lately?”

  1. Tiffany Gallicano Says:

    John, thanks for sharing these five tips. How would you evaluate Pepsi’s apology based on the strategies you’ve presented? Perhaps that is the next blog post!


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