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Do You Know How to Apologize?


What do you do when you make a mistake?

Even the most polished professional stumbles once in a while, and how you handle these moments can make or break your professional relationships. Being able to apologize in a sincere, effective way is an essential communication tool and will help you build connections and establish trust with colleagues and clients. Check out the following strategies and learn to say that you’re sorry in a way that helps you connect with others.

Take Responsibility: Don’t create excuses for your actions. The phrase, “I’m sorry, but…” can completely derail an apology, making it seem insincere and meaningless. If you feel you need to explain your actions, you can, but there is a fine line between explaining and excusing. Choose your words and tone very carefully.

Acknowledge the Consequences: Stating the consequences of your actions can help the other person see that you understand why what you did was wrong and why they’re upset. Whether it’s a concrete consequence, like losing a client, or something more abstract, like making someone feel undervalued, verbally acknowledging the fallout is important.

Offer to Take Action: If there’s anything you can do to rectify the situation, take action, and let the offended party know about your plan. If you can’t think of anything specific that you can do, a simple, “Please let me know if there’s anything I can do,” can work wonders.

Related: Three Simple Tips for Inspiring Trust

Don’t Go Overboard: Be sincere in your apology, but don’t go overboard; if you dwell on your mistake, it will only make the other person uncomfortable and draw more attention to the faux pas. Once you’ve made amends, move on, and try not to bring up the incident repeatedly, no matter how bad you feel.

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