Using Mentoring to Apologize Appropriately

With all that can be said at the end of a conversation, have you ever noticed in business that you may end up saying sorry more frequently than you intended? Those of us who have fallen into the trap of always offering an apology need to ask ourselves: is one even warranted for this situation at work over an occurrence that is in line with general business decisions? In deciding whether an apology is needed in certain situations at work, it’s important to ask oneself the following questions: are you actually sorry, did you actually do something wrong, are you primarily sorry for yourself, or for others, and finally, will your apology impact the circumstances that have already occurred? If you find yourself guilty of over-using the apology approach, are you open to receiving some mentoring to avoid apologizing when it is unwarranted?

The Over-Apologizer

Authors who have written on this topic suggest that constantly apologizing can have negative impacts on your career for the following reasons. For those of you that insert a well-placed apology at the end or the beginning of a sentence with your superior, be aware the constant insertion of the term, “I’m sorry” may be perceived as incompetent and occasionally annoying to your colleagues and superiors, who see it as a self-deprecating style of delivering your message. While one may think this is the worst outcome that can be derived from an over-apologetic individual, there are other residual messages that are perceived from the apology that are much more detrimental to the individual throughout a business career.
Over-apologizing has a tendency to corrode one’s self-image for the following reasons:

  • Insecurity and self-doubt
  • Insincerity
  • Powerlessness
  • Compromising your professional values
  • Dependent upon external validation

After reading the potential effects of over-apologizing, one may definitely feel a call to action to change the course of outcomes that may occur if this at all describes your stance. In these cases, seeking out a mentor or coach to change some of your behaviors is helpful and can help you demonstrate the sincerity of the apology for the real serious offenses that occur in your work life.

Mentoring and Coaching Apologetic Behavior

As a mentor, the solutions that we provide to mentees should be direct, straightforward, and simple to implement. While we have unofficially taken an oath to do no harm, it is important to share resolution and guidance that moves one forward, not backwards. In this case, it is not about demonizing the behavior, but to find ways to change an individual’s way of thinking about wrong and right.

So, if we agree an apology opens dialogue between you and a perceived victim, your willingness to take responsibility for your behavior is the only real reason to extend a sincere apology. It is only in these cases that taking responsibility for your behavior, which can fortify your self-confidence, self-worth, and reputation is appropriate. You’re also apt to experience relief when you admit your indiscretions, and restore your integrity with the correctly formulated appropriate apology.

A Final Thought

So, while some people are fearful of apologizing, because they believe it is a sign of weakness, others have taken the time to understand that an apology is a meaningful vehicle to make you aware of some wrongdoing, and take responsibility for corrective actions that were needed. Sincerely expressing regret for acting inappropriately is the right thing to do in the work environment. Using your power to eliminate others discomfort is swift, sincere, and moves you onto bigger and brighter things. So remember, apologizing for the right reasons:

  • Heals damaged relationships
  • Provides opportunities to grow spiritually and practice humility, and among other things
  • Is a gift we offer to a potential victim.

If you or your organization would like to find out more about adult mentoring opportunities, and how a mentoring program can help bridge the gaps experienced from missing employee engagement, please reach out and connect with us at Coley & Associates, we are here to help move your organization forward, and we are passionate about what we do and committed to making a positive difference in our customers’ businesses and the world around us.

Photo credit: reynermedia via VisualHunt / CC BY

By Janet Williams

As Director of Human Capital and Performance Consulting for Coley & Associates, Dr. Janet E. Williams provides Government clients and commercial companies insight on how to leverage resources and maximize services for improvements to company operations. She specializes in mentoring, progressive management process improvements, accountability and control, revenue enhancements, and other organizational change methods. For almost 20 years, Dr. Williams worked in government and head an Emerging Leaders Program for mentoring youth. Janet holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Hampton University a MBA from Troy State University, and her doctorate in Public Policy and Leadership from Walden University.

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