Tag Archives: Regret

Another Sample Business Question and Answer from Our Upcoming Book

Last week, I posted a sample page from our upcoming book, entitled Answers to 100 Best Business Questions from 100 Best-Selling Business Books

Randy Mayeux and I are really excited about our the book, which attempts to answer questions that our clients have in areas such as customer service, management, leadership, teamwork, communication skills, and strategy.   The answers come from books that we have presented over the years at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  Each question and answer fits on exactly one page.

Here is another sample for you to read, that asks a new question, and gives a new answer.

How can I apologize to someone in an effective way?

Battistella, Edwin.  (2014).  Sorry about that:  The language of public apology.  New York:  Oxford University Press.

Many of us say “I’m sorry” or “Sorry!” every day.  But, very few us really get that message across in a meaningful way.  In this book, Edwin Battistella gives practical advice for giving a proper apology.  Here are three quotes from the book:

Saying ‘I’m sorry’ is different from saying ‘I apologize.’  The former reports on an internal state of the speaker but does not literally perform an apology….By itself,  the minimal report ‘I’m sorry’..or, the simple ‘Sorry’…doesn’t tell us much”  (p. 58).

Regret…also reports an speaker’s internal state….regret in ways that merely report on situations without assuming agency for them….a speaker [can] regret a situation but not assume responsibility for it” (p. 61).

Sorry is too personal for some professional and business exchanges, while regret is usually too impersonal and detached for condolences” (p. 62).

So, what does it take for an apology to be effective and succeed?  There are two parts:  ethically – by admitting moral wrongdoing and expressing regret, and socially – by making amends with the offended party. Apologies can fail on either count too, and key to the outcome is the language the apologizer uses.

And finally, consider this:  “The expressions ‘I was wrong’ and ‘Forgive me’ are also sometimes taken to imply apologies.  ‘I was wrong’ concedes error.  ‘Forgive me’ asks for reconciliation.  To conversationally cooperative listeners, either can imply the full apology process….When we shortcut a full apology by merely saying ‘I was wrong,’ we are relying on the naming of the offense to perform the work of the apology without the sorry-saying.  And when we shortcut a full apology with ‘Forgive me,’ we are jumping directly to the response step of the process” (p. 65).