Do you remember the last time you felt like you deserved an apology but didn’t get one? Maybe…
- The waiter forgot about your table
- They shipped you the wrong product
- Your significant other embarrassed you in a group setting
Fill in your own blank.
What impact did that have on your level of trust?
As sure as death and taxes, we will mess up. How we respond, regardless of fault, can have a monumental effect on our relationships, yet apologizing is rarely discussed in business development circles.
I recall an audience member asking a sales trainer, “What do we do when we make a mistake”? The trainer responded, “Be careful about apologizing. If you admit to the mistake, you could have legal liabilities”. While technically correct, that advice somehow didn’t feel right to me.
Shifts in thinking on this topic appear hopeful. Even state governments, hospitals and insurance companies have abandoned legal posturing in favor of an apology approach. “I’m sorry” legislation has been approved in 29 states and is gaining momentum. To reduce the risk of litigation, New Jersey recently started the Sorry Works! Coalition.
Gaffes, slip-ups, and blunders present a fork in the road to relationship depth. The proper apology, even in the most egregious circumstances, has the ability to strengthen relationships. Even seemingly insignificant faux pas like arriving late for a meeting, mispronouncing someone’s name, or failing to include someone, present a moment of truth to building trust.
We’re a “fix it” society. Somehow, we convince ourselves that if we just correct the problem – without an apology – we’re back to our original balance in the trust bank account. That’s a myth.
So how do we build a worthy apology?