How to Say Sorry When You Have Stuffed Up

Ok, so you’ve stuffed up, you’ve really done it this time and you need to apologise.  It is so critical to know how to apologise well, because a bad apology will only magnify the damage.

Anyone ever receive a bad or empty apology?  I am sure you can remember exactly how it went down like it was yesterday.  I can think of one just a couple of weeks back.  I raised an issue with a service provider and their response was “I’m sorry you feel this way.”   That was it!

Man I was angry, I felt completely dismissed.  It only added fuel to the fire.  To avoid this scenario it is important to know your communication style (or DNA) so you know what works best for you.  If this is a new concept for you; you can learn about Communication DNA here.

If you are more of a task person it can be easy to miss the relational side to an apology that is critical.  People need to feel heard.  For example, this awful apology I received was from a task-focused person.  What they needed to do to improve it is add some people factor

“I’m sorry you feel this way.  Tell me how you feel and what I can do to improve things”

 If you are more of a people focused person you may need to be careful of missing the point of the apology and blabbing on too much, for example you could say

“I’m so sorry this happened, I didn’t mean it blah blah blah”……. (2 hours later). You need to ensure you don’t make it all about the feelings and get some facts on what went wrong so you can sort it out.  For example

“ I’m so sorry this happened, tell me what we can do to improve your experience”

The next thing is to ensure you apologise as soon as possible.  Yes, you need to be prepared ad know what it is you are apologizing for, but don’t take too long.  The person you offended is hurting, confused and needs to hear from you.  Don’t let a spirit of resentment grow.

Finally to ensure your apology lands where you want it to and has maximum impact you need to mean it.  Really, you need to really be sorry.  You can all smell a fake miles away so don’t be fake.

If you have a story or experience to share, please do!  If you have a question then please get in touch.  Keep your eyes open for an opportunity to learn your Communication DNA through our upcoming online course.  We are so excited to share this with you!

Until next time, Care, Connect and be a Conscious Communicator

Let’s change the world we live in one conversation at a time.