Not because you’re stupid or thoughtless, and not because you don’t care. But you are guaranteed to screw things up, somehow, somewhere with somebody. It’s listed in the fine-print when you show up in your fine human form on earth. Don’t remember reading that? Something along the lines of “To err is human…”
- Every mistake is an opportunity to wow people. A friend recently ordered custom-made energy bars from a company called You Bar. They sent the package late, and sent an emailing saying so, apologizing profusely and asking what they could do to make it up. She was so impressed by their sincerity and willingness, and is far more likely to order from them again because they showed how much they care. If they had shrugged it off, or given a standard “sorry” response, not only would she not bother purchasing anything from them in the future, she’d likely be telling her friends about the sub-par experience she had.
- It feels good to make things right. If you know you’ve let a customer, partner or friend down, you feel lousy about it. Your ego may be telling you to stay in denial and defend yourself at all costs, but you always know in your heart when you’ve messed up and you carry the weight with you. Making a sincere apology and doing whatever you can to compensate for the damage done, will help you forgive yourself and move on.
- People respect those who own their mistakes. If people can count on you to admit when you’re wrong, apologize when you screw up, and do what it takes to make things right, you will command respect and always have people wanting to work with you, befriend you and pay for your products or services. They know you put other people before your pride, which puts them at ease and lets them know exactly what they can expect from you.
What’s the best way to apologize?
According to The Five Languages of Apology, a book written by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas, each of us has a “language” we understand best when it comes to apologizing. When you apologize in any other language than another person’s dominant apology style it may mean that they can’t hear or feel your sincerity even when the apology is completely genuine – it’s like you’re speaking different languages. The key is to express your apology in ways that are interpreted by the receiver as most sincere. According to the authors, this translates into “better communication, increased understanding and, ultimately, improved relationships”.
The five languages that Chapman and Thomas identify are:
- Expressing Regret – “I am sorry.”
- Accepting Responsibility – “I was wrong.”
- Making Restitution – “What can I do to make it right?”
- Genuinely Repenting – “I’ll try not to do that again.”
- Requesting Forgiveness – “Will you please forgive me?”