Do you think you should say sorry?

If you’ve made a mistake?

If your behaviour has been deemed to be inappropriate … even if you think it’s unfair?

If the company has made a mistake … and you’re talking to the client?

I remember being told never to use the word “sorry” at work. Apparently it diminishes your authority! I was told that I could say I “apologise” but only to apologise that they were upset but not for the action … (even if I felt the action was something to be sorry for).

However this never sat well with me … only apologising for the other person’s feeling and not the action that caused it?

I can be sorry that you have been upset and I can be sorry that I have upset you (even if it was unintentional) and personally I don’t mind telling you in both cases. And I believe a sincere apology when appropriate is the best route forward.

Recently a supplier upset me. Their processes made no sense at all and I was unable to fathom why I was being asked to jump through their hoops at my cost.

The first member of staff didn’t appear to understand my irritation and was very defensive.

The second could see why I was upset and said they were sorry I was upset (but not that they had caused my frustration or gave any solution or indication to what the problem was, other than me).

Eventually I spoke to someone who said they were sorry the process was so maddening but it was a legacy system that they didn’t have the power to change. They came up with a way for me to complete the process with the least fuss and then rang me later to check that I was happy. They then said “I’m sorry about all of this and I have passed a note to IT to see if there is a better solution to this problem”.

I am still working with them! I feel like I was heard.

And had I not dealt with staff member number 3 … that wouldn’t be the case!

I think you should say sorry … it isn’t an admission of guilt. You can be sorry the system is difficult, you can be sorry you didn’t get it right, you can be sorry I have been upset. If you handle a problem well … it’s highly likely that you’ll turn the complainant into an advocate!

What do you think? Is it OK to say sorry?

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