Cultivate the Art of Apologizing

by : viper58

A valuable negotiation skill for both business and personal worlds is the ability to adequately apologize. We all make mistakes; yet effective, sincere apologies are becoming too uncommon.

Two events in recent years focused my attention on the art of the apology: in Forrest Gump, the character played by Tom Hanks, who was quick to apologize to the Black Panthers, saying: Sorry. I messed up your party. His apologies were quick, genuine, and refreshing. Likewise, Treasury Secretary Robert Altman made headlines when he apologized to Whitewater investigators for misleading them.

Why are we so reluctant to apologize?

For one reason, we might appear weak. We want people to believe we are good; we justify; we scapegoat. In short, we often will resort to almost anything to protect our carefully crafted image.

Another reason might be the adult version of: They started it! We loudly proclaim, I am not apologizing if he (or she) is not apologizing. Or if we do initiate an apology and it is not reciprocated, we become self-righteous and dare to take the moral high ground: At least I apologized.

Here are a few tips to help you cultivate the artful apology:

I did not mean it. This is hardly an excuse; take responsibility for the outcomes of your policies or behaviors. No one told me that is also unacceptable. Be accountable: apologize and do what you can to make right the error.

What did I do? Develop self-awareness. We have all encountered people who grumble, I do not know why I am apologizing. I did not do anything wrong. Or the famous: Everyone else does it, or the begrudging: Well, if I did anything wrong, then I am sorry. Recognize when your actions or words have a hurtful, negative impact; refrain from labeling people as overly sensitive. In reality, you may be insensitive.

No big deal, just consider the source. We often disregard comments from people or organizations we find disdainful. We may not heed complaints because they are given angrily; however, people - no matter how they complain or who they are - may actually be speaking a useful truth. Avoid killing the messenger.

Finally, apologize publicly when you have erred publicly. we have all seen people weasel out of responsibility when they committed an infraction in front of a group by apologizing only to the one individual.

Undoubtedly apologies can be expensive. But consider the impact of a sincere apology: thoughtful words can communicate strength, sincerity, and trust. In these days of conflicts in post offices and schools, and violence in public buildings and traffic, we all do well when we shore up our inner fortitude and utter the few words that can almost instantly deflect rage and mitigate hard feelings: I am really sorry.