Just Say Sorry

I worked for someone once who I thought was the biggest pain in the rear end and I think when I got older and started my own business, I finally understood where he was coming from.

When I work on my own and something doesn’t get done, it’s all on me. When I worked for law firms and especially third party administrators (TPA), there are times when you have to rely on others and when they don’t get what you need done, you can’t get your stuff done.  When my boss asked me why I didn’t accomplish something or if I did something wrong based on the information provided, he didn’t want to hear any type of excuse. He just wanted me to acknowledge that I did wrong without making any excuse even if they were valid. I once drafted a defined benefit plan document 5-7 times because the actuary and the client couldn’t handle as to what the plan was supposed to say rather than how they thought should be administered. The fact that the actuary had no clue how he administered the plan didn’t change the fact that the client was disappointed.

The same thing can be said about clients. They don’t want to hear excuses; they just want to hear that you’re sorry. When you’re on the phone with a government agency and they haven’t acted on something for you, you don’t want to hear from the person you’re complaining to that they’re understaffed. If you’re complaining about the work done for you, you don’t want to feel that the person who was supposed to get the work done thinks your concern is silly by responding LOL to your complaint.

Sorry is the hardest word sometimes because people think sorry equals guilt or admission of liability. It isn’t. I find it a great method to defuse a situation. There are times when I failed to get something done because I was ill or flooded with work and I said I was sorry because I didn’t meet the client’s expectation, It happens, thankfully not so much. The sorry went a long way into nipping any remaining anger with my failure to get something done.

I have seen families destroyed and business partnerships disintegrated just because someone put too much weight in what saying sorry meant. Saying sorry doesn’t mean someone has something over you or that you’re going to have say sorry many more times, it’s just a great way to communicate with someone who is disappointed in you. It helps healing the disappointment they had.

I’m sorry you had to read this, but it’s something I thought you should read.


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