JS Tip 447: The Power of an Apology

From the Communication Workshops: The Power of an Apology

This tip expands on a long-time-ago tip. The discussion seems to be current. 

The First Problem: Some people don’t apologize at all.

The Second Problem: Some people apologize too much.

    How can we sort this out?

    We’ll discuss the first problem this week, and we’ll discuss the second problem next week.

    Some people don’t apologize at all. They think it’s undignified. They think it admits error. They think it will get them into trouble.

    As they say in the old country, “Balognik!”

    We suggest—and the research shows—that a simple apology may get them outof trouble.

    The University of Michigan Health System encourages its doctors to apologize for their mistakes. The system’s attorney fees have dropped by two-thirds and malpractice lawsuits have fallen by half.

    Consider two types of apologies:

    “I’m sorry this happened.” An apology of empathy. It identifies with the other person’s pain. It goes a long way in repairing broken bridges.

    “I’m sorry we made a mistake.” An apology of liability. This demonstrates honesty and accountability when you’re at fault.

      Each type is right and appropriate for its circumstances.

      And sometimes, it’s just the right thing to do.

      For more information, visit www.sorryworks.net and explore their three-part approach to resolving difficulties. They serve clients across the board, from hospitals to businesses.

      What are your questions? We love this stuff.

      Mark Brooks