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Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Power Of the Apology

While experts and lawyers differ on whether one should apologize in the workplace and how, I am a big fan of the apology as I am other elements of good manners. I know some linguistic experts claim that an apology can be seen as a sign of weakness and that you must be careful not to put yourself in a one-down position; I also know apologizing at the wrong moment can make you liable in court for various accusations.

But I am not talking about those kinds of situations. I am writing today about the simple procedures of getting business done that often go awry because the office is run by people and people can be slow, thoughtless, selfish and, at times, obtuse. I am guilty of all of those slights against humanity and I apologize regularly.

When we are exercising our daily right to be human we make the kinds of mistakes in the workplace that are like stepping on someone's toes. When we do, we should apologize.

Apologizing soothes hurt feelings, shows respect for others and proves that you have the kind of self awareness and self respect that empowers you to admit a mistake.

Admitting to a mistake is not a sign of incompetence; it is a testimony to being responsible.

But admitting a mistake and apologizing for it is not the only way an apology is used.

When you are the bystander to an office problem you did not generate you can still help by apologizing. You can say, "I am so sorry this has happened. How can I help you straighten it out?"

For after an apology in the workplace one almost immediately recognizes that a solution to whatever has happened is very much needed.

For me, an apology is a signal that the solution to the problem is close by. There won't be anything stopping its arrival now, because the emotions and hurt feelings and pride have been put in their place by the powerful apology that lets us all get back to work.

17 comments:

  1. I am a big fan of apology. I have found that a simple apology can go a long way in solving a problem. A lot of people tend to not acknowledge problems and let them go until it is too late.

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  2. I have almost become a pro at apologizing. I learned very early on that it is better to just swallow your pride and apologize. Hurt feelings can cause resentment, and there is no room for that in the work place.

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  3. It is mature and shows good work ethic to admit when you are wrong and apologize in the work place. If you aren't at fault it is still helpful to apologize for the situation even happening and offer your help on repairing it.

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  4. Admitting you are wrong and apologizing for a mistake is key in my book. It shows you are a strong individual who is also not perfect and very capable of mistakes, just like everyone else in the world.

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  5. I am also a stickler for good manners. Although, I never thought about using the power of apology as a way to divert a situation. I am known for being very blunt, at times, during certain situations. Ironically, I spoke with a co-worker this past Friday about different ways to avoid conversations with the older women in the office. I'll be sure to keep this technique in mind. WI8 K. Moore

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  6. Miss Simpkins,
    I tend to rush right in to a situation and that usually sets me up to appoligize regularly. Thanks for letting me know that it is okay to be imperfect and admit it.

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  7. I am a strong proponent of apologizing. To me, it isn't a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. It shows that you can push past your ego and admit when you're wrong or when you've erred in judgment. I would warn against apologizing though if you aren't sincere. Insincere apologies have the tendency to make people feel as if you're patronizing them.

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  8. This article was helpful in letting me know that it IS ok to apologize in the work place. The only job I have ever had was in the Army and we're always taught to not say "sorry", for our mistakes. It's an eye opener to know that other jobs are fine with employees apologizing for mistakes made. I really thought all jobs were "anti-apology".

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  9. Making mistakes is part of being human, therefore apologies in the work place should be accepted. However, there is a way to show that you apologize while still demonstrating that you are not inept. This is the difference between being responsible or irresponsible in the workplace.

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  10. I find that the quicker an apology is made for an unfortunate mistake the better. Leaving for the day without making a statement can result in lost sleep and anxiety. I like to initiate the resolution process for peace of mind.

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  11. Erik H. - ENGL 3060: WI Business Pro Writing WI7February 23, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    Very helpful.

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  12. I agree. Apologies do not make the apologizer lesser than he was; it shows that he is responsible, caring and concerned for the problem.

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  13. Reading this article allowed me to realize that the act of apologizing does not make me weak. It made me understand that it's okay to apologize and that apologizing generally helps the situation.

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  14. Wynonia Copeland W19February 24, 2014 at 2:37 AM

    I agree with this blog. Aplogizing definately doesnt make you weak. It helps the person you hurt understand that yo acknowledge your wrong doing. Nowadays people tend to be so prideful that they will not apologize to the other person. I believe that if you apologize about a situation you can have closure and move forward.

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  15. I believe that it is very important to know how to apologize. It shows that you are human and realize that you are not perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, but it takes a big person to admit it.

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  16. Miss Simpkins,
    Apologizing for something that is wrong is a great gesture. I feel as if that is one of the best ways to handle a bad situation.

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  17. I completely agree with this. It takes character to apologize despite the circumstances and fix the situation.

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