The Power of “I’m Sorry”

This week, a friend from my distant past called to apologize over remarks that he made long enough ago that I couldn’t exactly remember what they were.  I wasn’t mad at him; in fact, I’d almost completely forgotten the situation.  Hadn’t thought about it in years. And yet, and yet… I felt in myself a rush of goodwill toward him, and a hope that he’d succeed in life and work.

This is the power of the apology.  Listen to Marshall Goldsmith (top executive coach in the world) on this topic:

“I regard apologizing as the most magical, healing, restorative gesture human beings can make.  It is the centerpiece of my work with executives who want to get better.” (What Got You Here Won’t Get You There)

Here are some variations that may apply to you:

  • I’m so sorry, that was totally my fault
  • I screwed up, full stop
  • I was completely in the wrong to say what I said. Would you forgive me?
  • If I were you, I’d be furious over my actions. I’m truly sorry.
  • That catastrophe was 100% fault. I totally blew it

“But, but, but” you’re saying, “it wasn’t completely my fault!”

That’s true.  Often fault doesn’t lie 100% with one party in any relationship breakdown.  But you bear some responsibility.  Apologize unequivocally for the part that you own.

Here’s something I know about you.  A name came to your mind while reading this.  You know what the right thing to do it.  Pick up the phone, or walk over to the person’s work station, or drive home to your spouse, and experience the incredible power of the apology.

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