Last Updated Jul 10, 2009 12:07 PM EDT
- The Find: In business, as in life, we all make mistakes, but you shouldn't mess up your apology as well.
- The Source: An interview with John Kador, communications expert and author of Effective Apology: Mending Fences, Building Bridges, and Restoring Trust on the website of Tom Peters.
Kador offers five keys to effective apologies:
I think all significant apologies have five pieces, which I call The Five R's. First is recognition. That means acknowledging the offense with real specificity.
Responsibility is the second R. When you accept responsibility for something, you claim moral agency for the offense, squarely and solely, without excuses.
The third R is remorse. What's required is simply using the words "I'm sorry" or "I apologize." The use of these words is non-negotiable. Without using those specific words, you may as well not bother with the whole thing.The interview goes into fascinating details about the nuances of an effective apology and argues against those who claim apologizing and offering restitution is just too costly, saying "apology is not cost-free, it's just cheaper than the alternative." Also, covered are common "apology busters" â€" basically ways to screw up apologizing for a screw up. Snappy and straight-talking, it's well worth a read.
The fourth R is restitution. This is, to me, perhaps the most important of the steps because it's the one that can demonstrate concrete action. You can't talk your way out of a situation you acted your way into.
Finally, the fifth R is repetition. It's something that a lot of folks leave out. It's the promise not to repeat the behavior. To apologize for being late every time we meet, I need to say something like, "And I promise to be on time in the future."
The Question: In recent years, which wayward business person or company has made the most effective apology? The least effective?