The Art of the Apology

If there is one event we can count on in our personal lives, it’s that we will make a number of mistakes — and do so fairly often. In our professional lives, we’ve been conditioned to believe that apologizing can equate to admitting failure, weakness, or a lack of competence.

Whether it’s something small like being late to a meeting or a bigger issue like misspelling a client’s name in promotional materials, every professional mistake calls for an apology to the people it affects. Recognizing and admitting those little moments where we might not have lived up to our goals can go a long way in building and repairing professional relationships. Many times, the affected party will be more apt to appreciate a thoughtful and sincere apology rather than sweeping something under the rug and hoping no one will notice.

Knowing how to effectively apologize can be a game-changer when it comes to building relationships both personally and professionally. Showing that you can listen and understand the perspective of the other person shows a level of maturity and builds your own reputation as a reliable person.

Apologies have the power to transform negative situations into positive ones. Many times, making a mistake and following up with a sincere apology, and the extra step of sending a Thnks, shows that you’ll go above and beyond to make situations right. People tend to be understanding of minor slip ups anyway, but the extra effort shows the other person that they are valued and forms a stronger relationship.

Here are some of our favorite ways gratitude can be used to share an apology:

  • Include a Gesture: When you miss a meeting or forget an important call, a gratitude mindset allows you to see that the person you planned to meet with set aside some of their valuable time just to speak with you. Let them know that you appreciate their time, and apologize by sending a gesture with your note. For example, sending an “Eggstra Sorry Sandwich” is a great way to relieve any tension. 

  • Be Gracious: When a project doesn’t go according to plan, you can be thankful for the trust your team has in your ability and their ability to understand that mistakes sometimes happen. Rather than sit in a mindset of what went wrong and where you failed, focus first on what you were able to learn from said situation. 

  • Leave Your Ego at The Door: High goals and target outcomes are essential in helping your business succeed, but we will inevitably fall short of lofty goals from time to time. When you’ve fallen just short of a target KPI you can use that as an opportunity to step in with something extra. Being honest and apologizing for falling short is step one, but the effort involved in sending a Thnks as a follow up along with a detailed plan for improvement shows you appreciate the people you’re doing business with and plan to produce great results for them in the future.

  • Use Tasteful Humor: We’ve all known the feeling of embarrassment that comes with hitting “reply all” to the wrong email or realizing you’ve accidentally sent the right person the wrong information. Little slip-ups like these are bound to happen and can eventually be a great opportunity to use humor as a means of connection, since we’ve all been there at some point. A quick apology with a humorous tone is great to show someone you sincerely apologize for your mistake but also don’t take yourself too seriously.

Mistakes big and small happen almost constantly in the workplace, but ego is no excuse for not making things right with an apology. When you appreciate the people you work with — customers, employees, prospects — you should take a moment to apologize to them anytime you’ve created an inconvenience. This shows them they are a valued part of your professional network, and builds trust through accountability.