An Effective Way To Apologize

When’s the last time you screwed up and owed someone an apology? It’s probably fairly recently.

We all mess up and hurt those we care about and lead. I know I’ve needed to apologize recently.

That’s not to say I’m perfect at apologizing. Oh, no! Far from it. I’m not even good.

Ask my wife and she’ll probably tell you that I suck at apologizing. (But that’s a discussion for another time and also a reason I’m writing this post)

Frankly, I’m not good at apologizing. Words fumble out of my mouth and they don’t even sound like an apology.

But I was reading Chris Brogan’s book The Freaks Shall Inherit The Earth: Entrepreneurship For Weirdos, Misfits, And World Dominators and came across a section that made me pause and think.

It wasn’t a section in a business book that you would think would make one take notice. It was, after all, about apologies.

The Three A’s Of Apologies

Chris believes there’s 3 A’s that are involved in a good apology. He learned these steps during his days as a waiter in a restaurant.

These 3 A’s can be life-changing if we begin to apply them to our apologies (and truly mean it).

Acknowledge: Let the person you’ve let down know that you realize you haven’t lived up to expectations. Tell them you know what you did that wasn’t right.

Apologize: Say “I’m sorry.” Don’t try to overplay the apology but make sure you say that you’re sorry.

Act: Begin making changes in your life that reflects you’re truly sorry. And let the person you apologized to know what steps you’re going to take.

What The Three A’s Of Apologies Look Like

Seeing these words written out may not give you the best example of a good apology. You see the words but how do they apply to a situation?

Let’s look at an example of how we could apologize.

The situation: You promised Jim you would provide information vital for a report they needed to give to the CEO. You failed to deliver and didn’t get Jim the detailed information he needed.

The apology: Jim, I promised you I would get you the information you’d requested for your report. I didn’t follow through on my promise. (Acknowledgement) I’m sorry I failed to live up to my commitment to you. (Apologize) I know this impacted you in a negative way. I’m going to let the CEO know you didn’t have the information because I failed to deliver on my promise to you. In the future I will keep better track of my commitments to you. (Act)

Can you see how Acknowledging, apologizing, and acting works in these types of situations? This is a great way to apologize.

I think this is a very effective way of apologizing and I’m going to begin working towards these steps as I make mistakes and need to apologize to those I lead and serve. While I may not be perfect and I may not succeed every time, I will make progress and that’s why I wanted to share this message today.

I know I’m not the only one who needs this. You might need it as well. So let’s become better at apologizing together.

Question: What steps do you take to apologize? How effective are they? Let’s talk about this in the comment section below.

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