How to Make Your Apology Count

Everyone makes mistakes. But not everyone knows how to apologize like they mean it. At Ruby Receptionists, we know that the right apology can turn a tough moment around. It’s important to understand the difference between the apology you want to give and the apology you want to receive—they’re not always the same thing!

Have you ever received a “bad” apology? One that didn’t make you feel any better?

In her study of apologies, Stanford psychologist Karina Schumann writes that insincere apologies happen because “people are highly motivated to maintain their sense of self-worth and integrity.” It can be hard to own our faults and promise change, but that’s what effective apologies do.

Sincere apologies are an asset in any professional relationship. You can set yourself apart by asking yourself what you want to hear in any apology, rather than what you want to say in an apology.

To give an apology you would be happy to receive, adhere to a few simple principles:

  • Take responsibility. Simply saying “I’m sorry” or better yet “Please accept my apologies” acknowledges your mistake and expresses your regrets. Keep it short and sweet instead of justifying or minimizing the mistake.
  • Offer a solution. The hard part is over, but don’t forget to follow through. Demonstrate that your apology is genuine by offering a thoughtful solution.
  • Move forward. In Karina Schumann’s study of apologies, adults who affirmed their own values and worth were able to make more effective, solution-oriented apologies. So, move forward with the knowledge that your apology reflects your values and strengthens your relationships.

With a little sincerity, and thoughtfulness, an apology can turn a difficult moment into a meaningful connection. Demonstrate your values and your problem-solving skills by making an apology you would be happy to receive.

What makes for an effective, sincere apology to you? Tweet us @callruby with your favorite apology tip!

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