Enough with the non-apology, apologies. Here is how to do it right.

From CBS News.

As published on LinkedIn Influencers on April 6th, 2019.

Enough with the non-apology, apologies. ENOUGH!

This has been REALLY annoying me for a while, the non-apology, apology. What the heck is wrong with people? Seriously. I was up early this morning watching the CBS Morning News and up pops Joe Biden saying that he was sorry, not sorry. * Enough already!

Biden is certainly not the only powerful person to do this, the list is long indeed. If my favorite non-profit had a dollar for every time someone famous, or not famous, did this they would cover their annual budget pretty quickly. In my view, when leaders don’t do a proper apology it not only embarrasses and discredits them, but it also sets a very bad example for young and old people alike. We are quickly becoming a culture of the lowest common denominator, and I hate it. Apologize, or don’t apologize, but enough of these conditional, half-assed, blame the victim, blame the good intentions, pass the buck non-apologies. Enough.

So rather than listing all the ways NOT to do an apology, below is a wonderful framework for how to do an apology right. It is pulled from a new bookWhat Awesome Looks Like: How to Excel in Business and In Life, by Amy Rees-Anderson. Amy was the founder and CEO of MediConnect Global Inc., a medical software business she sold for nearly $400 million a few years ago. I interviewed Amy about her book this past week in Salt Lake City, and I will be posting more on that wonderful interview, but this post it is all about one thing, how to do an apology right. 

It is important to note that we all make mistakes. All of us. For me personally mistakes have presented my biggest growth opportunities. One of the many reasons that I am taking a gap-year of sorts is to process, learn, and improve the way I interact with people. Improvement will only be possible, change is only possible, and sustainable, if there is honesty, self-reflection, intention and accountability around it, to oneself and to others.

As you can tell, I’m fired up.

So here are Amy’s Six A’s of a Proper Apology:

1) Admit – I made a mistake

2) Apologize – I am sorry for making the mistake.

3) Acknowledge – I recognize where I went wrong that caused the mistake.

4) Attest – I plan to do the following to fix the mistake, on this specific timeline.

5) Assure – I will put the following protections in place to ensure that I do not make the same mistake again.

6) Abstain – Never repeat the same mistake twice.

Read them again. Print them out. Post them on a wall at the office and at home. Carry a picture of them on your phone. Share them. The next time you are about to apologize for something put your words and intentions up against this framework to test it. If you move forward and make the apology then make sure you live up to it. When someone gives you a non-apology, apology, don’t accept it and give the person an opportunity to do it right or not do it at all. Challenge them, don’t just let it slide by. When a person does give you a proper apology, and over time lives in to it, acknowledge it. Furthermore, when a person in a powerful position does it, let it affect your willingness to buy their products, go to their movies, work for them, or vote for them. It’s time to raise the bar. Enough with lowering it.

 Enough with these non-apologies, apologies. Enough. We can do better. 


* For those of you that may not be pop music fans, that is a reference to Demi Lovoto’s hit song, watch here .

PS – If someone has the editing talent to mash-up the video/song Sorry, Not Sorry with video clips from the long list of leaders that have done this I promise to share it.   For inspiration see the Taylor Swift / Goat video which makes me LOL every single time.    

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