Apologising in Business: Quick Tips

In any language, apologising in business is one of the hardest things that anyone has to do. It’s not always easy admitting that we are wrong. If we are not careful, apologies can quickly turn into excuses, and eventually switch from “I’m sorry for what I did” to “I’m sorry you feel that way!”

Reasons to apologise correctly

Not apologising correctly can lead to:

  1. Damaged professional relationships
  2. Delays in information exchange
  3. Time wasted handling unnecessary issues

So what can you say to avoid these issues and make sure your apology is appropriate?
“I’m so sorry” is always a good way to start!

Phrases to use to ensure an appropriate apology

I was wrong.
I shouldn’t have said/done that.
I made a stupid mistake.
I’m genuinely really sorry.

Please accept my sincere apology.
My comments to you were ill-advised.
There is no excuse for my behaviour.
It was not my intention to…
I’m terribly sorry.

The key to a successful apology is sincerity. If it doesn’t sound like we mean it then the apology has failed. Clustering a few sentences together often sounds more sincere, for example, “Please accept my sincere apology. My comments to you were inappropriate and there was no excuse for my behaviour.”

Outcomes of a sincere, appropriate apology

  1. Respect from colleagues that strengthens your business relationships
  2. Faster and smoother cooperation with colleagues
  3. Opening up time not spent dealing with the “clean up” of a bad apology

Have you had experience in apologising to someone in English? What did you say? Did it go well? Let us know in the comments area below. Feel free to check out some information on our seminar for delivering difficult news by clicking here.