Apologies can stir up complicated feelings. Many factors can contribute to how you feel about apologies that may not align with how others think about apologies. Many people had childhoods where they were forced to apologize, and others were shamed whenever they made a mistake, and an apology was never good enough. Among these can develop deep-rooted issues with apologies.
In personal and professional relationships, it’s essential to have established trust and a line of open communication. In a business partnership, trust is vital and built on small actions, words, thoughts, and intentions. When that trust is broken through, even a simple mistake made, you need to own up to it, admit you are wrong and offer an apology to help repair the relationship and have the ability to continue to do business.
Why Apologies Are Difficult
For many people, apologies are difficult. They feel like it’s not just an admission of being wrong. It is an admission that there is something wrong with them. Many people feel ashamed when they make a mistake or are wrong.
Many times, these feelings are brought on through the person’s upbringing. As children, they weren’t allowed to express their emotions, and if they made mistakes, they were often yelled at and disciplined, which caused them to look for ways to hide them instead of admitting their mistakes.
The Six Elements of Effective Apologies
All apologies are not created equal. When you apologize, you want to be sure you are sincere. In a psychological study, it was found that there are six elements to an effective apology.
- Express regret
- Explain what went wrong
- Acknowledgment of responsibility
- Declaration of remorse
- Offer of restoration
- Ask for forgiveness
The study essentially states that if you would like to repair partnerships or relationships, you must do your best to include as many of these six elements as possible. The most important of these that matter most is the acknowledgment of responsibility. Taking ownership of your mistake is critical.
Healthy Benefits of Apologies
Apologies make us feel vulnerable, but they can also help build the foundation for stronger relationships, personal and professional. In a business relationship, it is imperative to establish a level of understanding and trust.
When you make a mistake that could be potentially damaging and could lose a deal, the other party may be irreparably angry. Unless you have established a solid open line of communication with them and are at peace with yourself in the ability to admit your wrongdoings, you can provide them with a sincere apology.
After an honest apology, the other party is usually forgiving, and tension is released. You could potentially save the business relationship and make it stronger. Apologizing and admitting wrongdoing is a show of strength in character.
With any mistake, you can feel the stress, guilt, and tension within the partnership, and the other party certainly has those feelings, including hurt and anger. Saying “I’m sorry” allows you to reflect and consider the impact of the apology and work to ensure the person understands and feels better knowing you are working to repair the relationship.
The power of saying sorry in a business partnership is profound. It can help repair broken relationships, open up the doors to healthy communication, and acknowledge their feelings, which lets them know you care about the partnership and would like to continue working with them. Trust is fundamental to your success, your team, and your business partnerships.
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