The Four Elements of an Effective Apology

I'm Sorry NoteWhat makes an effective apology—a timeless question.

Before a practitioner ever tries to apply mortification strategies to an organization, he or she should ask himself or herself that question in the context of his or her own life. If a friend did to you what an organization did to its publics, what would you need to hear to issue forgiveness? You might follow that question with several other questions: Is the apology sincere? Do they promise not to do it, again? Do they even know what they did wrong?

There are many theoretical guides to apology in crisis literature. One of my favorites, image restoration theory, comes from Benoit’s 1995 book, Accounts, Excuses, and Apologies: A Theory of Image Restoration Strategies. However, for the purposes of this post, I’d like to steer clear of ponderous theory and explain a simple four-step approach to effective apology that I find quite accurate and helpful. It comes from Brigham Young University’s Center for Conflict Resolution. Continue reading