5 Steps to Your Best Apology

“I’m sorry” is a powerful statement of compassion when used correctly.

There are few things more important than identifying you’ve fallen short for someone and taking steps to mend the relationship. Doing so will temper short-term anger and eliminate long-term resentment.

When the time comes to apologize, five characteristics stick out:

1. Be genuine
Though it should go without saying, there is little use in making an apology if your believe you were correct. What’s more, any discerning individual will pick up on your wavering and note the fresh deception.

If you’re unable to be authentic, you should keep your mouth shut.

2. Own up to your mistake
As I’ve written before, there maybe a small handful of instances where more can be gained than admitting failure. Accepting your share of the blame in an honest, upfront manner–forgoing Hollywood theatrics of “contrition”–alleviates frustration for those you have offended, though the injury will yet take time to heal.

The wound may be deep, but you’ve limited the scar tissue.

3. Avoid assigning blame
Now that you’ve confessed to your error, keep from pointing fingers at someone else. Though the extent of your control is often limited, dragging another down for their errant contribution paints you as petty and childish.

The beauty of a proper apology is the maturity it displays…if you let it.

4. Fix what can be repaired
In the aftermath of catastrophe, you must determine what can be salvaged. Take time to evaluate the situation and make every effort to rebuild the bridges you can.

You can begin rebuilding even when you’re in the midst of disaster. The sooner you start, the less damage there will be.

5. Forgive yourself and move forward
The last step is crucial. In order to go on, you must relieve your self of any burden regarding the event. Pull some lessons from it, then chalk it up to experience and make it work for you in the future.

Others may remain upset with you for days, weeks, months or even years. Allowing their anger to poison your self-confidence would be a tremendous tragedy. If you have been conscientious in following the first four steps, you have released the anchor of their emotions from your mental ship and can steer on with a clear head.

And you’ll never have to be sorry again.


What Are You Sorry For?

6 Lessons from a First Class Leader

The Best of Friends


1 Response to “5 Steps to Your Best Apology”

  1. 1 Top Posts, July 2010 « MeBuilding Trackback on August 4, 2010 at 10:51 am
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