"I will apologize when she apologizes."
"I have nothing to apologize for."
"It's hard for me to admit I was wrong."
"Apologizing is a sign of weakness."
Do any of these statements sound familiar? The statement, "I'm sorry" is one of the most difficult to speak in the English language, because there are feelings attached- embarrassment, shame, and any other discomforting emotions that may come along with the situation. In the book, the Effective Apology, by John Kador, he states that an 'apology is humanity's response to imperfection.'
An apology, on the contrary, is a courageous gesture that promotes transparent leadership showing a sign of strength. "Apologizing does not always mean that you are wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego." Unknown
- Be empathetic.According to Kador, showing empathy in the apology means that you feel the victim's pain. Example of an empathetic apology: I am sorry I yelled at you about missing the deadline, there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to get things done. I want to understand your workload. This will result in dialogue about why the deadline was missed and could avoid future occurrences.
- Keep it short.A short, empathetic apology is the most effective. When we start making excuses as to why we displayed negative behavior it soon becomes an apology that is suitable for our needs and not the victim. For example, "I am sorry I yelled at you about missing the deadline. I was having a bad day and I wanted to be able to give the report at the Board meeting……"
Determine what it is you are apologizing for, is it the fact that you publicly yelled at your co-worker for missing the deadline or were you angry because you couldn't present the data at the meeting. If the apology is due to the latter, you are apology to suit your own satisfaction rather than the inappropriate behavior and addressing the feelings of the victim.
- Be prepared to 'pay restitution'.If the person was wronged in front of a group of people, such as in a meeting, be ready to publicly apologize to the individual at the next meeting. Be sure to apologize to the person in private first, then in public. The 'victim' will be more appreciative of the gesture and know that the apology is genuine. Hence, the public apology is the restitution.