How to Make Amends the Right Way

Chris photo handshake 2Once you have acknowledged a mistake and apologized for it, why should you make amends? And how?

Maybe you are thinking this might open the door for the other party to demand the most damaging penance.

Hopefully not. In my experience, when my intention to make amends is clear, others don’t feel the need to shame me.

The best reason to ask the offended party how you can make amends is to obtain the target information that can get the relationship back on track, back to a place where you can resume building trust.

Here are three practices people with The Leadership Gift™ use when they are in the midst of cleaning up relationship mistakes:

1. Don’t assume you know what to do to get the relationship back into exchange. As responsible and introspective as you may be, it’s impossible to fully predict how the offended party is interpreting your broken agreement or relationship mistake. Besides, if you just mind read, you will miss an important opportunity to hear the other person’s request. Make a new agreement and keep it.

2. Avoid making amends in a way that encourages the offended party to say something like, “Oh, that’s okay. Don’t worry about it.” This could be perceived as attempting to slip off the hook. For example, if you borrowed and then broke or lost something of value, make sure the other person knows you are fully prepared to replace it before asking if that will make amends.

3. When others do try to penalize or shame you, don’t accept their response! You can negotiate the level of exchange in any relationship — you do it all the time. If the other party is unreasonable, you can always decide the relationship is not so important to you as your own integrity. Don’t let irresponsible people attempt to take advantage of your openness.

Get Started With This 5-Minute Practice Tip

Choose a relationship that needs mending. Depending on the situation, try out one of these statements on the other party once you have acknowledged and apologized for your part in a relationship mistake:

  • How can I make it right with you?
  • What can I do to make amends?
  • What can I do to clean up the mistake?

Suggestions for the team: With your teammates, scan your collective interactions and results to date. Ask yourselves if you have made mistakes or broken agreements with customers, other teams, or managers. How can these broken agreements be mended?

Leaders and coaches: Get Christopher’s best team building and leadership strategies collected over two-plus decades of solving teamwork problems for smart people. Get this FREE Special Report while it lasts: The Five Flawless Steps to Building a Strong Executive Leadership Team.

Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.

Posted in Responsibility on 09/30/2014 01:09 am
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