Sorry shouldn’t be the hardest word.


In my last article of 2019 I talked about one of my top learnings after 19 years of running Partners With You, and that was … it is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.

I said that so long as you have made the best decision you felt you could, based on the facts in front of you at the time (in my opinion) you won’t regret it.

However. after a couple of conversations with others over the past few months I feel I should add to this. If you do get something wrong … say you are sorry as quickly as you can!

I don’t mean like a politician says sorry!

But with meaning … if you are wrong, say so.

If the perception is that you are wrong, admit that and apologise for anything you may have done to make it so … but say it and mean it.

How do people know that you are being authentic? It’s all in the delivery. You need to look and sound as though you believe what you are saying … the words on their own are worthless, if your message isn’t contained in your delivery too.

So Yes, I still believe that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission but with the caveat that if you do make a mistake or the decision doesn’t turn out to be the right one … then say you are sorry as soon as you can.

Your thoughts?

8 thoughts on “Sorry shouldn’t be the hardest word.”

  1. I would add that, even if the problem really isn’t your fault, saying sorry that the person has been inconvenienced in any way can be a good thing to do!

  2. I have a habit of saying sorry. I seem to be using it quite too often with family, friends and even my connections. Its not because I am apologising for anything BUT that I seem to start a conversation sometimes by saying ” Hi Sally , Sorry to call you so early ” OR ” Hi Tara, sorry but can you talk “?

    I need to change my vocabularly.

    1. Sally Hindmarch

      A single sorry to apologise for an early call or to check if it’s a convenient time isn’t a bad thing Vee. If you keep saying sorry in the same conversation then it could be undermining your authority … otherwise not such a problem.

  3. As with all communications, surely the key is to consider how it will be received not what was your good intention. You have to consider why the recipient might be in need of an apology and what would make it authentic to them.

    Of course this is not a place for cynicism, if you don’t mean it that will surface eventually and come back to bite you!

    1. Sally Hindmarch

      Hi Peter

      Indeed you need to consider how it will land with the other person but I don’t think it should be your first consideration. In my opinion, if you are only worried by how it will look (or be received) then it will come across as cynical.

  4. Alison Derrick

    Totally agree when you are apologising on your own behalf and you are genuinely sorry.

    But when apology is on behalf of an organisation , customer care training long ago taught me that if one did not believe one/ the organisation was at fault you should say ” sorry if x happened.” not “sorry that x happened ” because you were then not admitting the organisation or you had been wrong.

    Always seemed a very subtle point which most people wouldn’t even notice, but also seemed a bit ” mealy mouthed” to me.

    What are your thoughts Sally? Does this take the authenticity out of the apology. It feels as if it does.

  5. Sally Hindmarch

    I was taught this too many moons ago and I’m not a lawyer Alison but I have never understood why saying you are sorry that something has happened makes you more or less liable.

    If I’m sorry that a house was hit by lightning or you fell off you bike, that doesn’t make me at fault. If I work for a company and you are unhappy with the service you received if I’m sorry that you are unhappy that doesn’t even mean that the service wasn’t good, it just means I’m sorry that you are unhappy with the service.

    I also think that a complainant can quickly become an advocate if you make an apology if it’s due and handle the problem immediately, communicating with the complainant throughout the process.

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