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Making an Authentic Apology

April 4, 2018

We are all human, right? So let's face it, we all make mistakes. Most times we are so embarrassed we want to sweep them under the carpet - but they always come back to haunt us. Owning up to those mistakes and taking responsibility is as pleasant as a sharp stick to the eye.

 

As difficult as it is to apologize, why is it that sometimes our apology is not accepted or does not help diffuse the situation? It may be because we are not completing the full apology and the person is still on the defensive or upset. There are three steps to making an authentic apology.

Incomplete/Defensive: Making a simple statement like "I'm sorry." or "I didn't mean it."

Complete/Non-Defensive:

  1. Apologize for what you did
    "I am sorry that I ....."

  2. Take responsibility
    "It was my fault that ......"

  3. Ask for assistance to resolve
    "What can I do to make things right?"

 

OR, in the business world:

 

  1. Apologize for what you did
    "I am sorry that I ....."

  2. Take responsibility
    "It was my fault that ......"

  3. Explain your resolution plan
    "What I plan to do to fix this is..." or "I have learned from this mistake and will not make it again."

 

With practice, you can make the process less painful and even gain respect.

 

Sources: Personal experience, "Powerful Non-Defensive Communication", by Sharon Ellison and Professor Randy Pausch's Last Lecture


 

 

 

 

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