I’m Sorry…I Think?

One of the most important things executives think about during a time of crisis is how they (and their organization) are going to make it right. While there have been many successful apologies that have rectified the situation and earned the company a credible name, there are those select few that stick out as major mess-ups. Let’s take a look at some different types of bad apologies.

“…If I offended anyone” This faux-apology gives the impression that if you were an offended party that you could be too sensitive, or that the person at fault doesn’t understand why they made a mistake.

“If you can tell I don’t care” An example is BP’s CEO Tony Hayward when he made the mistake of saying, “I just want my life back.” Clearly he didn’t think at the time about those whose lives were lost during this disaster and successfully came off selfish and irresponsible.

“…If I waited too long” Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings didn’t address the Netflix price hike until about two months after. Now not only are customers angry with him, they will be disappointed with the lack of response and the impression that the apology was not a priority.

“…Somebody else wrote my apology” Everyone knows about Tiger Woods’ public apology in February 2010, or should I say his publicist’s apology. Woods couldn’t take his eyes off the sheets of paper he had in front of him the whole time and the reporters in attendance weren’t even allowed to ask questions, reassuring us that he would not have known what to say.

To avoid these embarrassing apologies, it is extremely important for all executives and organizations to remember to be genuine and address the situation as soon as possible so that it can a) be resolved and b) avoided in the future.

Do you know any examples of good or bad apologies?

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