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“I’m sorry!”

“I’m sorry” is a powerful phrase, not only in personal relationships but also in business.

Many businesses struggle with saying “sorry”. When a customer complains, the customer support will often rather defend their actions, finding reasons for why it wasn’t the business’ fault. When a deal doesn’t work out as planned, the manager will rather put the blame on circumstances, finding reasons for why it wasn’t her fault.

And I get that. It’s probably not their fault. Quite likely, it’s nobody’s fault (or even mine?). But that’s not what “sorry” is about.

“Sorry” is about empathy. “I hear you. And I feel your pain.” That’s what customers and partners are longing for.

They know just as well as you do that it wasn’t your fault. But it’s them who have to deal with the unfortunate outcome. Their product is broken. The deal hasn’t worked out. The delivery has arrived after the event. The investment is wasted.

“I’m sorry for that.” … “I hear you.”

It can’t change the past. Sure. But it changes the conversation you’re having right in that moment … sometimes dramatically so.

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