If you are breathing, then you are going to blow it sometime soon. I did this big time last week. At the risk of writing my most transparent post to date, here is the story.
I was on a video conference call with 2 of my co-workers and two IT guys from a vendor my company loves. They do incredible work for us. They constantly exceed our expectations. (If you guys are reading this, we love you!)
I threw them a curve ball at the beginning of the meeting. I let them know that one of our key team members would be late to the call, and I changed the agenda. From that point, the call did not follow my expectations.
I had entered the call in a state of frustration already. As the flow of the call was not following my mental agenda, I became more frustrated. I pulled up a chat box with one of my co-workers. I typed, “These guys are ticking me off.”
I was sharing my screen with the entire call!
Our vendors gave an audible reaction to what I typed. I was mortified and embarrassed. As is often the case with me, they paid for my inability to effectively deal with my frustration – that was caused by something else. It had nothing to do with them.
I knew I would be apologizing to them and trying to make it right. I attempted to do so immediately after the call.
An apology has two purposes. The first is to show remorse and contrition. The second is to rebuild trust where you have caused hurt and pain. To reconcile a relationship.
America is terrible at apologizing. Think about Jason Giambi apologizing in 2005 for PED use. Except he didn’t. Ryan Braun did an OK job of it 18 months after he emphatically lied to the world. Too little too late. Anthony Weiner did a really nice job on his first apology. However, it was insincere and his behavior continued.
So here is how my dad taught me how to apologize.
6 Steps To Giving a Real Apology
- Say You are Sorry – This is where you need to start. Demonstrate your remorse first thing.
- Take responsibility – Pride is your enemy here. It is impossible to give a real and genuine apology without humbling yourself. You cannot make excuses. You cannot blame shift. These invalidate the apology. There is no other posture that works than that of humility.
- Name it – Actually say what you did. This is so difficult. Naming your behavior makes it very real. If you are going to skip a step, this is the one you will do. To name what you did shows that you are empathizing with the other person.
- Ask for Forgiveness – Most people stop before this. You say you are sorry and then assume that you are forgiven. Explicitly ask for their forgiveness. This demonstrates that you realize that they have a choice in forgiving you. Sometimes, they will. Sometimes, they won’t.
- Make Restitution – This won’t always apply, but there may be something you need to do to make right the situation. Ask them what you can do. Then do it.
- Commit to do better – Your apology must be validated, over time, by your changed behavior. An apology should end with a commitment to not do that again. However, if you behavior doesn’t change, your apology will be shown to be a bunch of hollow words.
Question: What do you think you should do when someone does not accept your apology? You can leave a comment by clicking here.