Friday, May 29, 2009

Why A Good Apology is Good For You!

Everyone makes mistakes, errors, blunders in judgment, or at times just does something plan stupid. This happens in all types or relationships and if the right type of apology is not given, then the repercussions can be devastating, especially for business.

While no one likes owning up to a mistake, the best thing to do is get in front of any situation by taking full responsibility for whatever happened. Violations of a trust can be perceived as a betrayal, and most people that I know absolutely freak out when they think they are being lied to, or cheated on, or deceived. There is something primordial about this. It works on our brain chemistry, and floods all our rational thought. So, anything that you can do to take the “fuel” out of a highly volatile situation is highly recommended.

Still, making amends count is not quite as simple as saying “I’m sorry” when a trust is violated or a relationship is up for renegotiation.

Research shows that shirking from truly taking responsibility for an error or transgression in order to placate the other party can actually work against you! Do NOT try to “buy off” the other side with gifts or discounts either. It cheapens the relationship and makes the other person feel like “chopped meat.”

The trick here is to really look at the situation from the other person’s point of view, and ask a very simple question. How would I want to be treated if the roles were reversed, knowing full well this mistake may NOT be your fault?
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The best course of action is to take full responsibility, emote empathy for the other party, communicate an understanding of how upset and disappointed the other party is, offer a brief explanation of how and why the violation happened, demonstrate a course of action of how you are going to fix the problem and prevent it from happening in the future, and if appropriate, offer some form of compensation for any inconvenience you might have caused with your apology.

While at times you may not want to take this course, when it is a serious breach of contract that might lead to legal action, sincere apologies do work. The most important thing to remember in an apology is that the behavior that caused the transgression needs to stop or people will no longer put any stock in your words. And in any relationship, the only coin we have to offer is our integrity and our word. Whenever you make an apology, make sure your REALLY mean it and you can take a bad situation and turn it into a very productive one.

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