We all make mistakes. But the way we make up for them is what separates those who are forgiven from those who are not.
First you must consider who was hurt by your mistake and think about what they might want from you as you accept blame. Is it simply financial compensation for the dent you caused in a stranger’s car or is it a sincere apology for betraying the secret of a friend?
Here are some guidelines from communications skills training on how to deliver an apology that is well received:
- For a stranger, acknowledge your fault and either pay the bill or find some way to repay with a meaningful action. Did you spill wine on their jacket in the restaurant? Offer to pay for dry cleaning and replace the wine with a full bottle for their table.
- For a friend, listen empathetically to fully understand the pain you caused and offer your sincere apology and support.
- For your team, be straightforward in accepting responsibility for what went wrong, promise to work hard to right the wrong, and do so.