How not to apologize to colleagues
Everyone makes mistakes without exception. The best thing to do if you let a colleague or supervisor down is to apologize. This is difficult, unpleasant, and beats on the ego. And yet it is necessary. First of all, to maintain a good relationship with the “injured party”. How is it not necessary to apologize?
“I’m sorry” (and that’s it).
“I forgot to prepare the write paper yesterday, and I understand that you lost a client because of it. I’m sorry.”
What’s wrong with that sentence?
Imagine a manager who lost a customer because of a colleague’s oversight. The relationship with the customer was established for weeks (if not months), the colleague led every order and took care of every detail. And then there’s this misfire. How does the colleague feel about the perpetrator of the situation?
With a “bouquet” of feelings, which is easy to imagine, a terse “sorry” will not be enough.
“Masha, I’m sorry. I know you have ruined relations with the client because I forgot to make a commercial proposal. First of all, it won’t happen again. Secondly, if you want, I can explain to the client that he did not get the document through my fault. Hopefully, he will be understanding, and your relationship will be restored. Perhaps I can do something useful for your client to soften?”
Show that you empathize with the situation and are willing to make up for your gaffe.
“I’m sorry, but…”
When we use “but,” we thereby undo everything that was said before the “but.”
“I’m sorry, but I expected you to remind me of this business proposition, to control it. You know what my workload is like. My forgetfulness could have been anticipated.”
This wording sounds more like an accusation than an apology, doesn’t it? Like, it’s your own fault.
What kind of reaction would such an approach to admitting your mistake provoke? The interlocutor won’t be thrilled.
“I’m sorry. You know how it is when you’re so busy that even important tasks slip your mind. Although that’s no excuse, of course, and I’m genuinely upset about it.”
It’s hard to apologize, so it’s tempting to pretend it never happened.
You can try not to meet Masha. Don’t run into her in the cafeteria. Seeing her in the corridor, turn in the opposite direction. And if you still have to communicate on business matters, there is an option – to behave as usual.
This approach can hardly be considered constructive. Unless the offended colleague has amnesia, he will remember your offense, while you are working in the same team. Every time you come into sight of this person, you will experience a whole palette of unpleasant feelings: from annoyance to guilt and embarrassment. Not to mention the fact that you can no longer count on the cooperation and support of this person.
“It’s all my fault.”
Add a few dramatic gestures, and you’ve got yourself a stage performance.
Self-injury is the only thing that doesn’t work. The injured party is not relieved that your self-esteem has fallen below the plinth. And for her, the injured party, there is no guarantee that this will not happen again. So it is better to permanently remove the drama from the list of techniques acceptable in dealing with colleagues. In the work environment, rely on facts.
“Yes, I am responsible for a poorly prepared sales proposal and the loss of a client. If there is something I can do to remedy the situation, I am ready.”
Reacting adequately to a mistake made and acknowledging your own responsibility is a sign of maturity and decency. So let’s not be shy to admit that we, like all people, are capable of stepping on a rake, and ask for an apology so as to preserve both the peace in the team and our own dignity.
How not to apologize to colleagues