Saying sorry in business and meaning it.
Apologies can be difficult but, done properly, can win you fans.
Anyone who remembers the old film ‘Love Story’ with remember the quote of “love means never having to say you’re sorry”, but I have always thought that it would never work in real life as saying sorry is very important in love, life and in business.
To apologise and to admit that you are wrong, then working to correct that wrong gives out a strong message and can build strong relationships in the long term.
Little, however, is achieved with words alone and saying ‘sorry’ is not enough if not followed by action. A meaningless, insincere apology is even worse than saying or doing nothing at all.
In business, a genuinely felt apology could mean the difference between losing or keeping a client but could also mean the difference of keeping our good name amongst everyone that client comes into contact with.
No one is perfect and we all make mistakes.
Most people find it hard to stand-up and say sorry. Whether we are prevented by feelings of pride, self-esteem, or we just feel the need to defend ourselves, we often stay silent and say nothing, even though we know it is the right thing to do.
In your personal life you may survive some issues without apologising and not owning up to your mistakes with family members and close friends, but it is the ability to make a meaningful apology to customers, clients, employees and partners that can save your business and help it to thrive.
By saying sorry in business, your value will increase with others!
The ability to apologize easily and quickly has far-reaching implications.
These days, we live in an increasingly connected world and one wrong word can blow up on social media and destroy your hard-won reputation, overnight.
Bad reviews and comments from angry or upset customers on Google, Facebook or Twitter can drive potential business straight into the arms of your competitors.
Business can be stressful and misunderstandings and mistakes are inevitable.
That’s why it’s so important to know how to say sorry when you are in the wrong and not let pride get in the way.
There’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to do it and choosing the right way will ensure you retain your self-respect and not appear soft or a ‘push-over’.
Saying Sorry In Buisness With Confidence
1. Start With Sorry
A good apology starts with admitting your mistake and saying those sometimes difficult words, “I’m sorry.”
Sometimes it’s all the other person wants to hear so swallow your pride and make sure you say it first.
2. Be Honest And Sincere
It should go without saying that if you are apologizing, you must mean it.
Without sincerity, an apology is worthless and accomplishes nothing.
Most of us can tell when someone is lying or is being insincere with their apology so don’t fall into this trap yourself.
Contrary to what people say, apologizing for your mistakes is not a sign of weakness – it’s an act of strength.
3. Apologise in person
Digital is not the way to go when a real apology is needed. When someone is irritated or offended they most likely won’t feel any different after reading a detached, emotionless email.
Sorry is an overused word in customer service emails and will not carry the weight you require when a true apology is needed, so make sure you give it the personal touch.
If it can be face to face, you will be better thought of, or pick up the phone – talking directly to the person takes courage but it you will be better thought of by the recipient.
The human element cannot be downplayed when you are trying to make things right.
4. Actively Listen To The Complaint
People know when they’re being listened to and when they’re not. Start by saying sorry then follow-up by really listening to why they are is upset.
An effective apology is all about acknowledging the error and understanding its effect on the other person.
Listen carefully to what they have to say, then look for solutions with them will make them feel valued and cared for. Also, use their feedback to improve – if one person didn’t like something you are doing or offering, chances are others either, so learn from it.
5. Fix Things Where Possible
Once you’ve owned your responsibility for a mistake, said you’re sorry and really listened to what the offended person had to say about the situation, it’s time to offer a solution that demonstrates your desire to make things right.
Even if the other person is partially responsible, always rise above it. Do the right thing even if it’s not easy and you are not entirely at fault.
Keep in mind that people talk, especially when they’re angry or hurt. The nicest, most sincere apology you can muster doesn’t mean much if it’s not followed directly by an attempt to make things right in the eyes of the other person.
6. Get Over It And Move On
earning to say sorry is less about losing face and more about improving as a business person and being honest and authentic in your dealings with others whether they are employees, customers, clients or partners.
It may be that your best is not good enough for one person and your apology and efforts are not appreciated, but as long as you believe you have done your best and offered your best, then you should move on, having learnt your lesson and rectified any issues internally, and grow as a business from it.
As the Elton John song goes “ sorry seems to be the hardest word” but when used properly and applied effectively, saying sorry in business, as in life generally, can be one of your most powerful tools, so use it well.
and the peakinsight team