Written by Anthony Demangone
If you're lucky - very, very lucky - you'll never have to offer an apology.
This means you'll never mess up. Or, if you do, you won't disappoint others that depend on you.
But if you're like me, and most people, you'll trip up and need to make an apology at some point.
It is amazing, though, how bad we are at saying "sorry."
How many times have you seen a celebrity read a prepared apology..."If my actions have offended anyone, I am sorry." If?
Why are we bad at apologizing? This comes from Be Open and Honest, a recent blog that I read.
What prevents leaders from apologizing freely, from owning up to mistakes and taking full responsibility for them? One contributor, no doubt, is the cultural axiom that leaders, particularly aspiring ones, should hide weaknesses and errors. However, we need to realize that it is not only healthy for leaders to admit their wrongdoings, but such practice can be a powerful tool for them, increasing their legitimacy among their co-workers. People need courageous leaders in order to feel there is someone to make the tough calls and to take responsibility for them; they need to know that the buck truly does stop with the leader. With a dauntless leader, people feel protected, knowing that the person in charge really has their back and will take ownership when things go awry.
The author gives a number of tips when making an apology. His first point rings true to me.
Apologize sincerely. Saying “I am sorry” must communicate genuine regret for your behavior and a wish that you had acted differently.
The human being has an amazing ability to pick up on those who aren't authentic. If you don't mean an apology, that falseness will ooze from your pores.
Seth Godin touched on apologies recently as well. And he makes a good point. If you don't have both contrition and compassion in your apology, don't even bother.
Sounds simple, right? But why do so many of us get it wrong?