Restore Trust with A Good Apology

‘If you’re going to do it, do it right or don’t do it at all.’

This old adage applies so aptly to the Art of Apologizing. If you are not apologizing for the right reasons or with an open heart it may be best not to approach the apology until you can get there. More damage can be done to trust and relationships with poorly thought-out, insincere or inauthentic apologies. Take the time to get to the right place, allowing you to deliver a great apology.


Managers berate subordinates in meetings and colleagues make snide remarks about each other. Even worse, people send emails, texts, or tweets without thinking. Because no workplace nor person is perfect, most of us need to learn how to own our mistakes or failures and to offer good apologies.

Offering an authentic apology is key, but it has to be done well. If not, it can backfire and further injure relationships and trust. In my previous posts, I discuss some of the ingredients to making a good apology.

When you make a mistake or say the wrong thing, you diminish trust in the relationship you have. Step into the other’s shoes and understand their perspective. Reassure the other party that you want to continue to share commonalities with them and work respectfully together. It is necessary that your apology include understanding your mistake and your intention to not let them down again.

‘If you're going to do it, do it right or don't do it at all.’ Click To Tweet

Knowing Your Audience

Fine tuning an apology depends on knowing how you have offended another and what actions are needed to aid in repairing the relationship. Often a simple statement of empathy will go a long way to restoring trust. At other times some form of compensation is in order.

There are no hard rules as to how to deliver an apology — whether written, public, private, or otherwise. Each is unique. What is appropriate in one situation or with one person may not be in or for another. Only you can authentically determine how to phrase it, how to deliver it, and how to make it resonate with the other party.

An apology always requires you to offer an expression of empathy to the offended party. Without an authentic and sincere statement about how your error has affected them, your apology becomes a hollow justification of yourself and your actions. This will backfire on you!

When crafting an apology, ask yourself, “Who am I talking to, and what are they looking for in my apology?” If you are not sure, then consult with a trusted peer or your coach. There is a lot at stake when working to get an apology right.

What are your experiences with offering or receiving an apology? Let’s talk about it. Contact me or connect with me on LinkedIn.


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