I received an email that sent me to a website that explains in detail how to apologize. I’m sorry I clicked the link. Now, I have to bore you with this column by adding my interpretation.
The article from mindtools.com is about “Asking for forgiveness gracefully.” You should review it right after you get done with TechNation.
So what is an apology? According to the article, an apology is an expression of remorse for having caused offense or harm to someone. A good apology expresses remorse and admits responsibility for the action taken as well as making amends and promising that it will not happen again. The apology must contain two magic words: “I’m sorry” or “I apologize.”
You may have heard me say that you should never apologize. You see, I believe that unless your actions intentionally cause harm, or affront, an apology should be unnecessary. After all, unintentional consequences cannot possibly be regarded as requiring an apology. An expression of regret for the unintended outcome may be in order, however a full apology where we need to be contrite should not be expected. If there was intent to cause harm or affront, obviously there is still no need to apologize, unless you changed your mind and now regret the intentional action. So, how do you express your regret without actually saying that you are sorry? First, let’s discuss other things you should not say.
People have been taught to make an empty apology by saying, “I am sorry you feel that way.” This indicates that you regret that they misinterpreted whatever you did and it is their fault for doing it. This now requires you to convince the “wronged” individual that if they change how they reacted, all is good. Anyone that says that to me is quickly relegated to ignorance and insincerity and the discussion is soon terminated.
Often the aggrieved individual is a victim of his own unmet expectations. They expected a particular outcome, often unrealistically, and feel somehow affronted. An unrealistic expectation is a puff of smoke and must be gently blown away. It should be perfectly acceptable that you had no idea of the expectations nor the possible outcome.
Assuming that the “offending” action reached an unintentional conclusion, then that is exactly what we should say. We did not intend to cause the particular outcome thus the outcome was unintentional. With sincerity say, “ When I did (whatever), I did not intend to (offend, cause you to lose money or whatever) with my actions nor did I foresee that this would be the result of my actions. I want to ensure that this will not happen again so please help me to understand how we can alleviate this unintended conclusion. ” Use whatever similar words you wish with the intent to place both of you in a solutions-driven mindset.
In the heat of an apology, the wrong-doer will say, “What do you want me to do to correct the error?” This is a mistake. When you ask someone to tell you what they want you to do, it allows the other individual to turn the discussion into a personal issue. Assuming that we are still talking about business, making it a personal affront is not likely to turn out well. Instead say, “What would you like to see happen?” This is a more solutions focused question and generates a more rational response. Try it. It works.
Consider not actually saying you are sorry for anything since it puts you on somewhat unfavorable and shaky ground. When the outcome of your actions is unintended, it is better to attempt to place all parties in solutions-generating mode rather than placing yourself in a penitent position.
Follow my advice and you will never again hang your head in repentance. If this does not work, I’m sorry in advance for any inconvenience or punches in the nose you may receive as a result. I recently heard that, generally, a key part of communication is that both parties be conscious. Be advised that none of this will work on your significant other. Oh, in case you wondered, the email mentioned above did not come from my lovely wife, Ruth.
© 2018, TechNation Magazine. Site designed by MD Publishing, Inc.