Word Of the Week #19: Apologize

April 20, 2009 by  

Apologize: to acknowledge a fault or offense with expression of regret by way of amends.


Am I in Trouble?

Last weeks WOW was about service recovery. One way to recover quickly is to apologize. Why do you think it is so difficult for some people to say that they are sorry?

I believe it goes back to our childhood. If we apologized, that meant we did something wrong. That equated to punishment!

The good news is, we are adults and won’t get punished for apologizing. You’re not admitting to being wrong, you are simply letting the other person know that you are truly sorry.

Stephen Covey says,”It takes a great deal of character strength to apologize quickly out of one’s heart rather than out of pity. A person must possess himself and have a deep sense of security in fundamental principles and values in order to genuinely apologize.”

This week when a problem or complaint arises don’t personalize it. Apologize and take care of the situation as fast as possible. Notice how quickly the situation diffuses and how it makes you feel to give a genuine apology.

Reader Responses

“Apologize ~ seems to be a word I’ve used several times this week. In one day, I had to apologize to an individual and then make an apology to someone on an online forum. I have been very fortunate, in that I learned the value of apologizing to others many years ago. Whether or not it’s an “I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize I did that,” or an “I’m sorry, I was wrong,” apology, most people will respond very well when they hear those words come out of your mouth.  It’s very hard (in most cases) to stay mad at someone when they apologize, and most people are not expecting it. Usually, the opposite of an apology is denial. I saved my fanny quite a few times in job situations simply because I never denied, or lied about, anything, but always owned up to my mistakes and apologized for the situation.” — Terry L. Green

“The process of apologizing is also accepting responsibility for a situation. In customer service, when an employee sincerely apologizes and lets the customer know what he or she can do to alleviate the situation, the customer’s upset feelings are usually assuaged. However, there are instances when an employee, manager or owner uses the line, “I’m sorry that you feel that way.” That is a killer and only serves to exacerbate the original problem.  I know we all hear that from people who have committed faux pas. “I’m sorry that it made you feel that way.” That response almost always implies that the person is insincere and will not take responsibility. My wife and I celebrated her 30th birthday at a local restaurant five years ago. I had called ahead to let the restaurant know what I wanted to do with the dinner and to make sure Kristen’s name was spelled correctly on the specialized birthday card. After we were seated, they took our order and brought over the birthday card. Kristen’s name was misspelled. When the order was brought over by the waitress, she explained what some of the items were and dropped the large food plate on our table, which shattered into a few shards on the table, spilling coffee on my lap and pretty much making a mess of the table.  After apologizing (sincerely), she brought over another platter of food. We had dessert, and then left. After we related this story to friends, they asked if the restaurant had offered to comp the dinner or at least the dessert. Or did the restaurant offer to pay for the dry cleaning of my clothes. The restaurant did not offer. We think that the waitress did not have the authority to do that since her manager was not on the premises.  We did not go back, but we did not blame the waitress. It was one of those things. If there is anything that I have learned in life is that it is a privilege to serve our fellow man. I think Bob Dylan sang that “even the Queen of England has to serve somebody.” We all serve each other, in one way or another in this life.” — “Warrior” Joe Moran