Never Ruin an Apology with an Excuse

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” – Benjamin Franklin

Oh, how much truth this statement carries, especially in the business world.

How many times do you think consumers of construction services have heard; “I am sorry for this problem, but the contractor before us _________.” You can fill in the blank here. It does not matter what is said, when an apology includes the word “but” it is not an apology at all. It is an attempt to make an excuse or justify an organization's actions (or inactions). Customers hate excuses and ruining an apology with an excuse is, well, inexcusable.

The reality is that we are all human and everyone makes mistakes. A clear, straightforward apology will not only be welcomed by a customer, but most times, honesty and sincerity will be a pleasant surprise to the customer. Especially when this apology is followed by what your organization is going to do to make the situation right. One suggestion to consider when apologizing is to begin your apology with the words; “I am truly sorry for…” or “I want to apologize for…”. This helps communicate genuine remorse. Practice saying these phrases aloud to yourself before offering an apology—this exercise will help you find the right words to convey, and they will come more naturally as you say them to your customer.

Being a leader in the business world, at whatever level, means owning up to problems that happen on your watch. Owning up means knowing when to offer a sincere apology and articulating how a situation is going to be addressed. But also keep in mind that, in the heat of the moment, this may simply mean saying; “I am truly sorry for the _______________ this situation has created, and I will get back to you as soon as possible with what we can do to make this right.”

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