Like many moms, I usually schedule my two boys’ doctor’s visits or dental exams on the same day. There’s a sure-fire way I know if the person at the front desk (i.e., the one who checks us in and takes our names) is really in the moment.
You see – my boys have the same birthday, three years apart. When I check in for appointments, I can always tell if the person at the desk is really ‘in the moment.’ They will comment on the boys’ dates of birth. (“Is this an error?” “What are the chances?!”) If they don’t notice the coincidence, it’s likely that they are just going through the motions. Or they are distracted. Customer service win if they notice!
I was thinking about being in the moment as I have been tuned into the art and science of apologies. So much of being able to apologize to someone is about taking notice of the misstep you took and the harm you did to the other person. It’s also about being present to notice the other person’s reaction, and to know how to approach an apology.
Our book club book this month was The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All of Your Relationships, by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas. Apologies are part of every relationship, at work and beyond. If you’re in a customer-service role, apologies are critically important—nearly every day! In other work settings, addressing issues as they arise, and not letting feelings get hurt or issues fester is critical to a work culture that values every team member and motivates you to come to work—and put in the discretionary effort. This book is excellent and provides guidance for how to ensure an apology is received and does the repair work it’s intended to do. (For more about the book, check out the discussion notes on the book club portal.)
What are some strategies for effectively apologizing? Here are some of my insights…
Elements of an Effective Apology: Three Take-Aways
Finally, a re-frame… While apologies can be uncomfortable and stress-inducing, reframe it. They are a chance to connect with someone, and to demonstrate to them just how much they mean to you.