I've always believed in the benefits of an apology. It's like applying soothing
balm on a wound. It makes people feel better and allows them to move on.
In business, as in our personal lives, one of the most important
things to do after you've erred is to say you've made a mistake and you're sorry.
If you continue to deny there's a problem, or let the wound fester, chances are it won't disappear--but grow
It took GM years to admit it had an ignition switch problem that may have been responsible for more than 20 deaths. The company lost market share, billions of dollars and its reputation was shattered. Finally, its new CEO, Mary Barra, came clean and apologized for all those years of willful denial.
GM's sales have rebounded.
Brian Williams, one of TV's most respected and well-paid news anchors, repeatedly exaggerated the danger to him while reporting on the Iraq war. After evidence proved he misrepresented his war experiences, Williams finally admitted he lied. He lost the anchor chair, a lot of support and was suspended for six months. But he will be back on TV on MSNBC.
We often hear jurors say, " I just wanted him to say he was sorry"...after a criminal refuses to do so before sentencing. Jurors often describe the refusal to apologize as sheer agony - as if the crime has been committed again.
It's amazing how three little words - I am sorry - have
much power to heal.
There are, of course, "good apologies" and "bad ones."
It's not a good idea to say you're sorry
without explaining why
you did what you did, or without putting it into some context.
And when you apologize, you have to mean it. People can tell right
whether you're truly sorry, or whether you're faking it.
Timing is also important.
At first, Hillary Clinton sidestepped the question of whether she used a personal server while overseeing the State Dept. After months of obfuscating, she finally admitted she used a private server and a private email account as Secretary, but wished she had used two accounts, like other politicians in the past. One wonders why she just didn't say so in the beginning. Now this story will linger and sting long after it should have.
supporters say they
he tells it like it is!" So far, he has called women pigs, labeled Mexicans rapists, accused Huma Abedin, a long-time Hillary aide, of willfully sharing classified information with her husband, Anthony Weiner, who Trump has branded a pervert. He's called his fellow GOP candidates losers, clowns and dummies.
He has refused to apologize for any of these statements.
But offending so many people in so many ways will take its toll. If his words don't sink him, his rivals will, by putting together an explosive TV and Internet reel reminding voters of his cruel and uncontrollable mouth.
When Tiger Woods finally
apologized for his cheating ways, it didn't revive his flagging golf game, but it did attract
all the sponsors who initially ran from him like the plague. He may be losing--but he's not losing money.
Of course, taking the high road and admitting one's errors
is not without risk.
result in bad things happening. For example, if you fess up to having an affair, you could lose your significant other. If you take responsibility and apologize for making a bad corporate decision, you could get fired.
On the other hand, that could happen to you anyway.
When colleagues fess up to messing up - they generally fare well. It all depends, of course, on how
you say what you say.
If you're too slick, you will be mistrusted and then canned.
If you're too wimpy, you will be ignored and never promoted.
But if you admit
your mistake, explain
why it happened,
for it and appear sincere
, chances are you will survive your mishap.
You might even thrive.
After all, there's nothing Americans love more, than second chances.