Sorry seems to be the hardest word


Right now two people (it’s business, not personal) owe me an apology.

They know it, I know it, they know I know it…and so on.

Our business relationship is damaged. A quick apology and it would be sorted. But they can’t – or won’t – do what they need to do. And the longer it goes on the more damage is done. A few more days – next Tuesday in one case – and we reach the point where it’s terminal.

Sometimes in business we all need to apologise. And it’s not difficult. Can’t work out what to say? Be my guest:

“I’d love to give you a sophisticated explanation. I’d love to tell you it was the computer’s fault. But I can’t – and it wasn’t. We cocked up. I’m really sorry, we made a mistake. This is what we did wrong, this is what we’re doing/we’ve done to put it right. Once again, I’m sorry.”

Do that and your relationship will be stronger. Everyone knows that mistakes happen. It’s what you do to put them right – and how quickly you say ‘sorry’ – that marks you out as different, and that turns a potential problem into a stronger relationship. And believe me, it will be stronger.

But do it now. If ever there was a situation that required the advice of Nike – just do it – then it’s when you need to apologise.

So, that’s the business world sorted. What about your children? My boys are 8 and 5. Dan, the eldest, is just getting an inkling that sometimes Dad gets it wrong. So, yes. Sometimes you do have to say to your children, “Sorry, I shouldn’t have shouted/said that/done that. Dad was wrong. And I’m sorry.” It doesn’t make you a bad father, it’s not showing weakness – it’s simply being honest and truthful, which presumably you see as a reasonable basis for your most important relationships.  

Maybe I should apologise – bit of a rant this week. Last minute panic and all that. Very shortly I’m getting on a plane back from Denver. What for? That’s next week’s blog. My very own ‘Letter from America.’

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