The Right Way for Business Leaders to Apologize – Not!



How Not to Apologize

It seems there are two groups of people in business. Those that refuse to admit wrongdoing or ever apologize and others who are constantly saying they are sorry when anything goes wrong. What is the best balance to build company teamwork, loyalty and the best customer experience?

On this week’s Small Business Radio Show, Stacey Hanke, author of “Influence Redefined: Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be” thinks we need to get back to “basics 101 and be kind”. She discusses why too many leaders give superficial apologies loaded with excuses and blame. However, apologies made the right way can allow you to build stronger and more trustworthy relationships with those around us; it grows us as professionals and in our roles as leaders. It helps determine the reputation you build everyday.

How Not to Apologize

According to Stacey, too many people apologize in the wrong way. This includes:

Not Owning the Mistake: “I am sorry, but it really wasn’t my fault.”

Placing blame or trying to justify your actions will reduce the power of your apology and hurt your credibility. Using excuses to justify your actions or shortcomings will only intensify any feelings others have of rejection, anger and pain. Stacey believes it is critical to own your mistake. Acknowledge what you should have done differently and commit to making a change if it happens again.

Not Carefully Considering Your Words: “I apologize, but it really it really is just part of the environment we live in.”



Before rushing into an apology, consider how the receiver will interpret what you’re saying and how you say it. What we say when admitting a mistake can affect the trust we establish in the relationship moving forward. If we don’t consider our words carefully, we can add insult to injury and further jeopardize our connection.

Leaving Out the Specifics: “Sorry for whatever happened to you.”

Know what you are apologizing for before you make it. Don’t rush to apologize without all the facts thoroughly thought through. The person affected needs to know what you are specifically apologizing for. It allows you to give detail on the reason and acknowledge ownership.

Making it Impersonal. “Sorry ?”

The method of the apology is as important as the message itself. Recognize when a mistake requires a face-to-face interaction and it can’t be done by text. If you can’t meet in person, call them. Let the offended person hear your sincerity.



Listen to the entire episode of the Small Business Radio Show here.

Image: Depositphotos.com 2 Comments ▼


Barry Moltz


Barry Moltz Barry Moltz gets small business owners unstuck. With decades of entrepreneurial ventures as well as consulting with countless other entrepreneurs, he has discovered the formula to get business owners marching forward. His newest book, BAM! shows how in a social media world, customer service is the new marketing.

2 Reactions

  1. Aira Bongco

    It is important to own it especially to the customers. And to correct it right away.

  2. The only pronouns you should use are those relating to yourself. Eliminate “you” or the apology can sometimes be perceived as victim-blaming.

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