Pretty much everyone knows that it is important to apologize when you made a mistake or did something that turned out wrong. It’s a critical step in showing that you care about what happened and are willing to take ownership of the mishap, and while your acknowledgment doesn’t erase or “fix” the situation, an apology can go a long way to showing your concern and respect for the other person.
But when do you make that apology?
Common sense says that timing is important. If the apology happens too late you can miss the moment when it would have had a positive impact yet many people and some companies too become embroiled in finding out the “details” of the situation and let the opportune time for taking ownership and apologizing slip by.
As a sales trainer, I see this happen all too often. It makes complete sense to “check into” the circumstances of what went wrong to not only determine the cause but to also make certain that it doesn’t happen again. This is actually one of the “upsides” of making a mistake as it paves the way for better practices in the future. But the wronged party doesn’t much care about the future. They’re thinking about the here and now and hence an apology that comes long after the situation is basically irrelevant.
Many people get caught up in “it wasn’t my total fault” or “if you had done what I said this wouldn’t have happened.” Sometimes it’s a case of saying something you know you shouldn’t have said and the hurt is left to fester because your ego makes apologizing a difficult task.
Don’t let a mishap or misspoken words tarnish or potentially end a relationship. Demonstrate your concern and interest and apologize fast. The sooner you move past the negative situation the sooner you are on your way to patching up the relationship. In this case speed can mean everything.