No matter how dedicated and good we are at our work, we are humans and we are going to err at some point and eventually going to apologize to someone for something. But over the years I have observed that most of us are reluctant towards saying ‘Sorry’.
Why do people shy away from saying ‘Sorry’?
- “Never apologize. It’s a sign of weakness,” has become a popular sentiment in work culture. Lots of us have heard the advice that we should stop apologizing, especially at work.
- Many of us believe that by saying sorry we are reinforcing self-doubt and a sense of powerlessness.
- For some ‘Sorry’ has lost its meaning and is now used as space filler wherever they feel powerless. For them, sorry has nothing to do with mistakes; their apology is based on power. If they are in a power position irrespective if they are at fault or not, they would never say sorry and the vice versa is also true, they would say sorry in a heartbeat to someone who is more powerful than them even if it’s not their fault. So what I take from this is sorry has become a word use to massage someone’s ego. I recently faced a situation where this person ‘XYZ’ made a mistake and ignored my message to correct it and when I took the step of putting it up on social media, pat came the reply saying “mistakes happen, no need to panic & be rude”. Well yes mistakes happen, it’s human to err but one needs to accept those mistakes, apologize to the other party, learn from them and never repeat it. But this attitude of ‘mistakes happen, so what’ is taking us in the opposite direction of growth and learning.
- Some of us believe that offering the first apology after an argument is an admission of guilt and responsibility for the entirety of a conflict that involved wrongs on the part of both parties; they think an apology from them will allow the other person to take no responsibility for their own part in the conflict.
- Some of us feel an apology seems to call added attention to a mistake that may have gone unnoticed.
My Take on this:
I believe we learn from our mistakes. If we refuse to accept our mistakes how are we supposed to learn? How are we supposed to grow? It’s not a power game of showing someone down. ‘Sorry’ is a beautiful word that leads us to the pathway to learning and growth. A good apology has the power to repair relationships and restore respect. Rather than being a sign of weakness, saying ‘I’m sorry’ shows strength of character.
Why It’s Important to Apologize:
- In cases of wrongdoing, an apology is often the best course of action. It brings the matter to an end. It clears up the air, where both parties have acknowledged it, dealt with it and moved on.
- Avoiding the issue creates more problems. If you don’t deal with something, apologize and bring it to a conclusion, it can have long-term impacts on business productivity and sentiments in the office.
- A sincere apology allows you to let people know you’re not proud of what you did, and won’t be repeating the behavior. That lets people know you’re the kind of person who is generally careful not to hurt others and puts the focus on your better virtues, rather than on your worst mistakes.
Key Elements of a good Apology:
- The first step is recognizing that an apology is necessary.
- Be sincere. Take ownership for what you’ve done. Most people are quite forgiving if there isn’t any ill intention.
- Avoid adding “but” to your apology. If we say, ‘I’m sorry for this but…’ we might as well not have apologized. An apology is not an excuse or justification. One shouldn’t reframe an offence; an apology must name an offence and express regret for it.
- If something you’ve done has caused pain for another person, it’s a good idea to apologize, even if whatever we did was unintentional. This doesn’t mean that we need to take responsibility for things that were not your fault but we can express regret at unintentionally hurting someone’s feelings.
- Establish the facts, to end speculation. Be clear on how the event happened. It could be that it was a case of incorrect procedure, a lack of training or poor inventory.
- Don’t point the finger as somebody else.
- Don’t lie.
- Don’t wait for the other person to complain or point out your mistake. If a mistake has be made apologize immediately.
- Learn from your mistakes and Try to not repeat your mistakes.
- An insincere apology can often do more damage than no apology at all.
The good news is that most of us will put up with mistakes and remain loyal if an apology is made. In fact, when someone admits they have made a mistake, it actually increases feelings of goodwill and enhances the respect for that person.
So when you screw up, fear not – Handle it with grace, say Sorry, learn from the mistake & never repeat it again!