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When you’ve made a mistake . . .

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in Business Etiquette,Workplace Communication

Thanks to our increasingly online (and visible) lives, it’s more im­­por­­tant than ever to know how to apologize well. Relationships can break down when someone doesn’t have the courage or smarts to say “I’m sorry” the right way.

Exhibit A: Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings ran into trouble when he attempted to make an apology for upsetting customers but didn’t make things right.

As one business columnist for The Washington Post noted about Hastings’ apology, there was no “sorry for any confusion this may have caused” or “thanks for sticking with us while we sort this out.”

Even if he didn’t apologize, he could have pointed to the fact that companies and leaders sometimes make missteps. He could have been more revealing about what he’d learned from his customers, or even talked about how trial-and-error is part of being innovative.

The advice: When you wrong some­­­­­one—a colleague or a customer—apologize by doing three things:

  1. Without qualifiers, say you’re sorry.
  2. Make amends, if you can.
  3. Explain what you’ll do to make sure the error doesn’t happen again.

— Adapted from “In Netflix reversal, Reed Hastings misses the mark,” Jena McGregor, The Washing­­ton Post.

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