We need to apologise more in business.
We need to be prepared to apologise more.
And we need to mean it when we say it.
Many, many people in business refuse to say sorry because they assume it means they accept full responsibility. (To be fair, there are enough people in business who are very much prepared to let someone else take the fall, so there is that.)
Saying sorry means they have something to apologise for. It means they stuffed up. Which makes them a failure. Which means no one will ever hire them. Which means their career is rooted. Just because they accepted responsibility for being five minutes late to a meeting.
It must be someone else’s fault.
In those situations, it’s very easy to create an environment where, for me to be right, you must be wrong.
For me to win, you have to lose.
All of which creates a very black and white environment.
Like the current political conversation. Or the environmental question.
It’s great for an argument down at the pub.
But arguments at the pub aren’t supposed to go anywhere. They’re supposed to go round and round. That’s what makes them fun.
Business doesn’t have that luxury.
All we have to do to change it is accept responsibility for our actions.
Offer genuine apologies, not buck passing acknowledgements.
I’m sorry I didn’t get that done. I said I would, and I didn’t. I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for the frustration I’ve caused.
I’m sorry if you carried that frustration.
I’m sorry if I buggered up your day.
I’m sorry. I now see you were right.
I’m sorry. My lack of communication caused us to triple the work load – and I’d like to apologise for that.
I’m sorry I’ve been uncontactable when I said I would be.
I’m sorry. I’ve changed my mind. If I’d done it earlier, we could have all got some sleep. I’m sorry for that.
I’m sorry for blaming someone else when it was my responsibility.
I’m sorry for blaming you.
I’m sorry for being a twat.
“I’m sorry” changes the conversation from one of blame to one where collaboration can start taking place.
“I’m sorry” allows people to reset their emotions.
“I’m sorry” might just put us all on the same team.
It might just be the two words that change the world.
And if it doesn’t, I’m sorry.
And if it does, I tell you what. I’ll let you take all the praise.