Listen, we all f*ck up. Some more than others — and more extremely — but you can let your bad behavior slide every now and again if you know how to apologize properly. Thanks to a new study, you finally have some answers on how to go about it.
The study, which was published in the journal Negotiation and Conflict Management and conducted by a group of researchers at Ohio University, presented 755 volunteers with a hypothetical business scenario — a potential employee admitted to doing something stupid at a previous job during a job interview. Then the potential employee apologized for their actions.
Participants were asked to rate the apology on a scale from 1-5 to determine how effective, credible, and adequate the apology statement was.
From their data, researchers identified six key components that make up an effective apology:
- Expression of regret
- Explanation of what went wrong
- Acknowledgment of responsibility
- Declaration of repentance
- Offer of repair
- Request for forgiveness
That’s quite the list… seems like a lot of effort. Luckily two of the elements are more important than the others.
According to Ohio State,
“Our findings showed that the most important component is an acknowledgement of responsibility. Say it is your fault, that you made a mistake,” Lewicki said.
The second most important element was an offer of repair.
“One concern about apologies is that talk is cheap. But by saying, ‘I’ll fix what is wrong,’ you’re committing to take action to undo the damage,” he said.
Nice, noted. We know just what to say next time we do something incredibly stupid… which will probably happen tomorrow since it’s Friday and will mark 24 hours since the last time we apologized for something.