When I first began my career, I remember working with a woman at a PR agency. She was someone I looked up to. Savvy. Beautiful. Confident. She took charge of the project and her team with such ease. I wanted to be her. I recall one of my co-workers describing her as someone who “spoke softly and carried a big stick.” Not me. You could hear me coming a mile away.
Despite my brash ways, I was quick to apologize. To everyone about everything. I’d start out by saying “I’m sorry to bother you, but…” – issuing a steady stream of regrets I did not necessarily feel, but felt necessary due to a lack of confidence. I did not recognize this bad habit until I became responsible for being the public voice of a company and being the one to issue apologizes. Real heartfelt apologies. In this instance, you cannot fake it until you make it. Apologies are not sweet nothings that can be ignored. Apologies, in general, are not easy to accept.
Think about it. When you are truly upset with your significant other and he/or she gives you a gift (like flowers) in lieu of an apology or just attaches a simple ‘sorry’ note, what do you think? C’mon, what do you really think?
What are you apologizing for?
Do you recognize and take accountability for what I perceived you did incorrectly?
- “I am sorry” is not a conversation filler.
- If an apology is not warranted, perhaps it is a misunderstanding. Respond to fix facts or understand more about how the other person is thinking and feeling.
- Discover why you are motivated to apologize. Knowing why and how you say sorry is half the battle. Once you figure this out, you will be able to apologize and have the words mean something.
- An apology is not about you, it is about the recipient of the perceived damage. Don’t make excuses or talk about issues not directly relating to the situation for which you are apologizing. Be detailed. Why are you apologizing?
- Timing is everything. Just like the boy who called ‘wolf’ too often, your apology will not be believed if it follows a multitude before it.
Whether in a personal or professional situation, measure the meaning an apology. Be confident in who you are and the organization you represent. Stop pretending to be something you are not. If and when you are truly apologetic, step-up and accept accountability.
Until then, stop apologizing. You are not the victim or the recipient of the supposed apology, remember? This story…this “I’m sorry” is not for you.