Four Tips for a Professional Apology

November 17, 2021


Have you had a moment in your career when you noticed some tension in your relationship with a coworker? Possibly you saw the rolling of their eyes, realized they haven’t responded to your emails, or it may have been in that moment when they pointed out that you had disappointed them. 

The natural defense is to defend yourself. You think that there has to be some misunderstanding. They have misread your intentions or have intentionally shifted the blame for a problem upon you! However, upon closer reflection, you realize that the tension exists due to something you have or have not done. 

There are times that we make mistakes, but there should never be a time that we let our pride get in the way of our professional relationships.

It’s time for an apology. 

Yes, an apology is an admission that we’ve failed to achieve a certain expectation. However, it is also an excellent tool to create a winning result.

When we say “I’m sorry” to those we’ve let down, we are demonstrating that we value them in our lives. It is the beginning of restoring their trust. The win won’t be immediate. It will take time. However, taking that time to be genuine and accountable will be a sign of good faith. It is a step in the right direction.

Here are four tips for making your apology meaningful.

  1. Be quick. Apologize as soon as you can. 
  2. Be sincere. No excuses.
  3. Be specific. Identify the mistake and acknowledge the inconvenience.
  4. Be accountable. State what you will do to correct or complete the issue. Then do it immediately.

Win the relationship, and you will begin to win back your reputation.


Steven Iwersen, CSP, is the founder and President of Aurora Pointe, LLC, a leadership development company. He is a professional speaker and trainer that specializes in helping organizations manage change and difficult transitions. He is the author of The Porcupine Principles: How to Move Prickly People to Preferred Outcomes. He is also the host of VIP Exchange, a weekly video cast program. Visit for more ideas and information.

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