May 15, 2022
Welcome to Disagree Better, a twice-monthly email designed to help you collaborate and negotiate in ways that keep vital relationships resilient and important decisions sound in business and life.
Sometimes we put our foot in our mouths. Sometimes our anger or frustration leaves us temporarily mean-spirited. Sometimes there’s just a bicker breakout that we don’t want to ruin our day. Our apology needs to be concise, self-honest, and prompt in moments like these. We need to be able to reel our words back in, to the degree that’s ever possible, before the conversation goes any further downhill:
Sometimes we need something more substantive than a simple backpedal when we lash out in anger or another intense emotion. To paraphrase apology author Alan Slansky, anger doesn’t put thoughts in our brain; it lets them out of our mouth. When we need a potent and genuine apology, 2016 research offers guidance. The researchers found six ingredients for effective apologies, two of which are crucial:
Theologian and minister Nadia Bolz-Weber quipped, “Here’s the thing about admitting your mistakes: Other people see them. Pretending that we didn’t completely screw [up] does not in any way keep other people from knowing that we made a huge mistake. So, if you’re somebody who just has that transparency, people tend to just trust you more rather than resent you for making mistakes.” Recent research aligns with her point:
Take care of each other,