The art of giving an authentic apology

Members of high performing teams are not perfect beings who never make mistakes, never argue with team mates or never make a mess. They have, however, created a culture where it is okay to be human and they have frameworks to have the conversations that matter to help them move forward.

They also have a secret weapon — the art of the apology.

People can often bypass an apology and go to: justify; deflect or deny. This leaves the person they are talking to feeling ignored, angry and dismissed. This creates tension, resentment and derails team relationships and performance.

Being able to apologise in an authentic way is an essential skill in the high performing team’s tool kit.

A recent study quoted in Wellbeing Magazine talked about the six elements that were required to make an effective apology. It was sourced from negotiation and conflict management research.

These were:

  1. 1. Acknowledgement of responsibility;
  2. 2. Offer of repair;
  3. 3. Expression of regret;
  4. 4. Declaration of repentance;
  5. 5. Explanation of what went wrong; and
  6. 6. Request for forgiveness.

Of the six elements above, two were deemed essential: acknowledgement of responsibility and an offer of repair.

Reflecting on the dynamics of your team, where does the culture sit? Is the normal behaviour one of justification, deflection or denial when an apology is required?

How would utilising the art of giving an effective apology benefit your relationships, both personal and professional?

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Free Advice
5 years ago

Nice article … and always a good reminder!
I can think of many I dealt with who have lost my faith and custom by using the “ignore, justify, deflect, deny” strategy.
Unfortunately monopolies and government are the worst offenders – and getting worse by the day as they test the limits of their power (and mine)!

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