Build your Reputation with an Apology Do you know how to build your reputation with an apology? Even when things have gone wrong, this is still possible. What do you say when you get it wrong?

We all make mistakes. As a result, we have an opportunity to address those mistakes when we apologise. In the last week, I have had more than one occasion when I have been severely frustrated. I have had service providers letting me down. What was agreed and promised by a certain date, was not delivered. By far the most frustrating part of this is non-communication. Not responding when things go wrong inevitably leads to negative consequences. Ignoring an issue does not make it go away! So what do you say when you or your company get it wrong? How do you apologise effectively? How do you speak your way out of trouble? Here are a few suggestions that will help you turn a negative situation around with a considered apology. By addressing the issue positively, you can in fact, enhance your reputation.

Admit your Mistake in your Apology

Simply admitting that you made a mistake is a positive move in itself. Every day on the media, I hear politicians try and worm their way out of bad decisions. There is a stubborn refusal to apologise or to admit that an error was made. Two days ago, I heard a politician admit his mistake and make a sincere apology.  Not only was this refreshing, it made his reputation go up in my book.  No excuses were offered – he admitted that when he made the decision, he did not have all the facts at hand. Although he may have wanted to name and shame the person who had briefed him, he chose not to. He took full responsibility for his error. His apology came across as sincere and authentic. In my opinion, his reputation was enhanced as a result.

Use your Apology to Acknowledge the Impact

The most effective apologies are those that acknowledge the impact of the mistake. This in itself can diffuse a tense situation. It demonstrates that you have though about the consequences and have seen the matter from my point of view. Very few people do this. The usual apology consists of 20% apology and 80% justification for the mistake. A true apology is simply that. No pushing back, no justification, no excuses. Simply apologise.

Address the Future

A sincere apology takes place when you admit what needs to change. An apology is useless if your behaviour is not going to change accordingly. By stating the fact that you will do everything you can to ensure this does not happen again, you are demonstrating you take this seriously. This reassures me that you have learned from your mistake.

Mistakes are inevitable. Take the time to think through and master an apology that is sincere, considered and impactful. You can salvage much of your reputation when you do.