Simply saying "I'm sorry" isn't always enough. A decent apology should hit on multiple aspects of your wrongdoing. According to a recent study, there are six components you need to cover if you want to craft the perfect apology, and some are more important than others. Photo by artethgray.
The study, led by Roy Lewicki, professor emeritus of management and human resources at The Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business, and published in the journal Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, suggests that the most effective apologies contain these six elements:
- Expression of regret
- Explanation of what went wrong
- Acknowledgement of responsibility
- Declaration of repentance
- Offer of repair
- Request for forgiveness
These elements aren't too surprising (we've even talked about some of them before), but the study also suggests that some of these elements actually carry more weight than the others. According to Lewicki, the most important element of an effective apology is acknowledging your responsibility. If something is your fault, say that it is. The second most important element, says Lewicki, is your offer of repair. If you say that you want to fix things, and explain how, your apology will go a lot further. The least effective element was the request for forgiveness. If there's one things you leave out of your apology, make it that.
An Exploration of the Structure of Effective Apologies [Negotiation and Conflict Management Research via Ohio State University]