Excuse me? Yes, I end up saying that myself after three quarters!
Today I was on Radio Loud in a sober wise-guy programme, “The Boiling Point” with Filiz Yasar, together with Kim Ege Møller from Rhetorica, to discuss the “apology” as a communication phenomenon. This is against the tragic backdrop of the MeToo documentary on TV2 (watch it!) on Discovery+.
We will continue the conversation on Wednesday, when we will comment on the latest developments cf. Berlingske’s interview tonight with BT’s editor in chief Michael Dyrby. On Wednesday I will be joined by Lisa Storm Villadsen, professor of communication at the University of Copenhagen, Henrik Kragelund, owner of Shitstormdoktor.dk and Lawand Hiwa Namo, debater.
Here are three pointers from today that can ensure that your apology does as much good as possible – while limiting your own loss of face, ensuring that the offended person experiences real empathy, and ensuring that you can achieve (some) forgiveness.
How to get forgiveness?
– Engage in open, listening dialogue right away if someone tells you they are offended or angry with you and your company. It increases the chance of defusing criticism and getting a sincere apology, or maybe just clearing up a misunderstanding.
– If there is the slightest need to apologise, do it ASAP. The more you have to be driven to the apology, the less sincere the apology will seem, and the less you will get of the forgiveness that is a possibility after the good apology.
– Take the consequences. Pay compensation. Accept dismissal, court ruling – or make sure you actually improve the process in your company that was the problem, and show it concretely to the violator(s). Otherwise, the excuse comes across as hollow.
Beware of the victim card!
If you want to play the victim card instead of apologising, you’d better have BOTH justice on your side AND the sympathy of the majority of the “audience”. If you’re not right, then the sympathy will typically disappear when it all unfolds. And it happens!
These principles also apply in personal and private matters …
The 1000-dollar question is then: When it’s now SO easy and nice to say sorry quickly, why doesn’t the quick apology always come?
Part of the answer is that it takes a long time for people to realise they’ve made a mistake. Especially powerful and successful people often cannot see their own mistakes and refuse to lose face. That was also one of my points today, and if you want to read an account that underlines that, read Dyrby’s interview on Berlingske.dk.