“I’m sorry. It’s my fault. How do I make it right?” -Randy Pausch
Three simple phrases that can mean the world of a difference if delivered improperly. Push your ego and stubbornness aside and realize your mistake when you make one. Think about it like this. If you never make mistakes, how can you make yourself a better person? You have to admit and realize that you did something wrong, apologize for your mistake, and find out what it is you need to do in order to make it right. Never skip the last step because it is the most important. Without righting your wrong, you are lost in direction and bound to make the same mistake twice.
The former Conde Naste Portfolio says that most of us were taught that offering an apology, when we make a mistake, is good enough. But offering the right apology is not as simple as saying, “I’m sorry” because if not done correctly, the problem will continue to grow and worsen.
Apologizing after a mistake that was made or an argument that has happened, does not show signs of weakness or even guilt. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It will show your peers that you are strong enough to take responsibility for your actions and you are prepared to take the necessary steps to improve the situation. Even if the mistake was not your fault, a sincere apology is a step in the right direction and will say a lot about your character, business and personal.
Don’t lose credibility
Make sure your apologies are sincere. Remember that the whole point of apologizing is to right the wrong, not make it worse. An apology from someone who is still angry or embarrassed will be unrecognizable and distorted. Don’t let this happen to you. Take some time away from the situation to think about what has happened and why. Look at the other side of the story and as the saying goes, ‘Place yourself in their shoes.’ Sometimes this helps. Sometimes it doesn’t.
The point is to make your apology meaningful because you will quickly lose any credibility you have worked hard to earn. (Hint: “I want to apologize” is not an apology.) So first, deliver a meaningful sincere apology. Then, find out how to make it right.
Making things right again
Now this is just as important, if not more important than the initial apology. It will show through your actions that you truly are sorry and that you are really working to make things right again. For many people, acts of caring speak louder than any apology. That is why this step is so important. Finding out how you can make things right will help you to prevent it from happening again.
No matter which part of the apology you are working on, remember that the focus is not about you. It’s about your counterpart and making them feel better. You don’t want to sound defensive or like you are standing your ground. So even if anger still remains on your part, move past it, mend the relationship, and build from it.