Why is this do hard to do? We know it’s the right thing to do, it’s something we learn in kindergarten. But it gets conditioned out of us. This is not my usual type of topic for my blog, but it’s been on my mind recently.
About two years ago, a guest came to Inner Circle. By the end of the meeting he had proceeded to insult/abuse all the members, questioning the value of the advice they offered on the issue he presented for discussion. Clearly he was having a bad day and was not accustomed to being challenge as happend in Inner Circle.
I called him a day later, to check in, to see how he felt about things and to apologize for the meeting not going well for him. He hammered me and everyone else in the group again. Again I said I was sorry for how it worked out. And followed up with a written email apology. Again I got hammered in a reply email. I put him in the DNC file: Do Not Contact.
When things like that happen to us when we apologize, it makes us not want to apologize ever again. Things like this condition us not to apologize.
Compare this scenario to another recent apology scenario. I’ve been having some problems with my CRM email server. Contacts have been getting numerous multiple copies of the same emails from me when they should have only been getting one. Clearly very annoying. And I’ve been embarrassed about it.
I found the problem and got it fixed. And then send a “My Apologies” email to the group that was getting the most of them. The response: Mostly thanks and appreciation and understanding. “I’ve had similar problems, no need to apologize.”
So now I’m more apt to apologize and to admit I have made mistakes. And I’ve been reading another book by Pat Lencioni, Getting Naked. One of the things he explains, which should help all service based people, is the fear of being found out on mistakes made, hinders your ability to build customer loyalty. Basically, when you openly own up to a blunder, the client’s (and everyone else’s) respect for you shoots up dramatically. I recommend Pat’s book as I do all of his other books.
Now I suppose if you keep apologizing for the same mistake again and again, it shows you are not capable of learning and probably not capable at all.
Here’s the end of the story. Regarding my DNC. About a year after our encounters, while “officing” at the Crescent Club between client meetings, my DNC stopped by and apologized for his behavior at the Inner Circle meeting, sincerely and without any rationalizing or excuse making. “No excuses, it was wrong, I’m sorry.”
My respect for him went back up. And he is no longer in my DNC file.