Good Apologies Restore Trust

Good-Apologies-Build-TrustBecause no workplace is perfect, most of us need to learn how to make good apologies. Managers berate subordinates in meetings. Colleagues make snide remarks about each other. Even worse, people send emails, texts, or tweets without thinking.

Making an apology is key, but it has to be done well or it can backfire and further injure relationships. In my previous posts here and here, I discussed some of the keys to making good apologies.

When you make a mistake or say the wrong thing, you diminish trust in the relationship you have. You need to repair that trust by reminding them of your shared history, your shared goals. You reassure the other party that you want to continue to share commonalities with them and work together again. Your apology should include your intention to not let them down again.

Know Your Audience

Fine tuning an apology depends on knowing how you’ve offended them and what actions will aid in repairing the relationship. Often a simple statement of empathy will go a long way to restoring trust. At other times some form of compensation is in order.

There are no hard rules as to how to deliver an apology — whether written, public, private, or otherwise. Each is unique in its own way. What is appropriate in one situation is not in another. Only you can tell how to phrase it, how to deliver it, and how to make it resonate with the other party.

Good apologies always require you to offer an expression of empathy to the offended party. Without sincerely stating how your error has affected them, your apology becomes a hollow justification of yourself and your actions.

When crafting an apology, ask yourself, “Who am I talking to, and what are they looking for in my apology?” If you’re not sure, then consult with a trusted peer or your coach.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your experiences. You can contact me here and on LinkedIn.

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