The Importance Of Being Apologetic

There are some things that you just don’t see very often any more.

Wooly mammoths or dodo birds are good examples.

There’s something else you don’t see very often in the wild:

An apology.

I mean a real apology. Not a half-hearted apology, or a sorry-not-sorry non-apology, or worst of all, the one where someone ‘splains to you how your hurt feelings are invalid so really no apology on their part is necessary.

Those are all abundant.

No, a proper apology is one with no weaseling, no ‘splaining, or prevaricating. Just a proper, plain “It was my fault, I’m sorry.”

It’s a truism that most of our problems are self-inflicted.

Maybe not all, but many can be fixed simply by being sorry, and saying so.

I’m going to share an embarrassing story.

There was a lengthy back-and-forth reply-all email thread I was in that was trying to find a solution to a problem one of my customers encountered.

I made an off-hand comment along the way.

People in our finance team read the comment and took offence. They interpreted it as me throwing them under the bus.

I received a text message from a contact in head office with a warning:

You may want to lay low for a while. Finance is pissed, they think you threw them under the bus on that thing yesterday.

While it was in no way my intention to do that to them, at that point it doesn’t matter what I intended.

What you meant to do or not, that has no bearing on the validity of someone else’s feelings.

I felt terrible. I also know how important it is to keep the finance team on your side. It’s not a department where you want to make enemies.

So I did what anyone would do: I bought an enormous chocolate fruit bouquet from Edible Arrangements, and had it delivered to the finance office with this note:

I am so sorry. Please forgive me my lapse in judgement.

The next day I received another text message.

Nice work on the chocolate bouquet! You’re the favorite again.