The Right Way to Apologize

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong opened his mouth and offended two mothers who worked for him in a botched attempt to rationalize health care cuts.

To his credit, he quickly apologized and reinstated the program.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie apologized many times for putting the state residents through the George Washington Bridge scandal.

Today, apologizing is becoming a political and public strategy instead of a heartfelt way to say, “I’m sorry”.

Apologies are most meaningful when they have these elements:

  1. Make amends first.  Promising to do better, be better or change is not as meaningful as making those changes before you pick the right time to apologize.
  2. Fix what you’re sorry for.  Talking about it is empty.
  3. Keep your word.  In our modern world, the apology is the end all.  But a real apology is just the beginning.  Do what you say you’re going to do to add real meaning to remorse.
  4. Expect nothing from the person you are apologizing to.  The apology is for you.  Just as letting go of anger benefits us more than the people we are angry with, making an apology relieves us from hurt that can damage relationships and self-esteem.

Sorry + why + what you’re going to do about it is the best apology every time.