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A Sorry State of Affairs

The Esquire Guy’s guide to saying you’re sorry.

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Apologising is generally inadvisable, for a couple of reasons.

First, it’s a lot of work. You have to take the time to articulate the apology, and the offended party has to respond in some way.This is business; we’ve all got things to do. If you’ve caused offence, change your behaviour. Relationships in business – contractual, interpersonal, whatever – almost always come with second chances built in.

Second, if you find yourself having to apologise a lot, you’ve got bigger problems to deal with than the intricacies of a proper apology.

So, apologise only if it’s warranted – when the offence might cause long-term harm to your reputation. This is an offence that can’t be overlooked or ignored.

It’s not just that you were late for the meeting; it’s that you were late and you asked your partner to lie about your whereabouts. And then you never thanked him. And then you made fun of his socks in front of everyone.

The point is, there are offences that must be acknowledged if you are going to survive in your position – not your professional position but your moral or ethical one.

So when it’s warranted, you have to apologise in a complete and unadulterated way. No hedging. No weasel words. No vague assurances that it won’t happen again. A proper apology is an efficient, rich, bold thing. There’s no other kind, really.

Here’s what an apology requires, as set forth by Aaron Lazare, former dean and professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and author of the book On Apology:

  1. An acknowledgment of the offence.
  2. An explanation of your actions.
  3.  An expression of remorse.
  4. Some sort of reparation.

Thus, it follows:

  • “I was late for the meeting. I asked you to lie. I made fun of your socks.”
  • “I thought that your lying for me was a small price to pay for my inability to manage the simple task of being at a meeting on time. As for your socks: Hula girls just aren’t my taste.”
  • “I regret compromising your ethics. I regret demeaning your choice of hosiery.”
  • “I am going to tell everyone why I was actually late. And I am buying you some new socks.”

You’re acknowledging not just a professional failing but a moral one. That’s the only point of an apology: To correct a moral wrong.

When you apologise, you’re affirming that both parties have shared values and agree that the harm committed was wrong. And the gravity of a moral wrong demands that an apology be unequivocal.

Remember, if you admit responsibility but don’t say you regret anything, then you’re justifying your actions. You’re saying, ‘Yes, I did this, but here’s why.’ That’s an excuse, not an apology. A good apology needs to be clear in saying you were responsible for what happened and also clear in saying you regret what happened.

But anyone can apologise if an apology is thought of as merely a technical thing. Satisfying the four steps of an effective apology is meaningless if it doesn’t seem like you mean it. As important as the apology itself is sincerity, which requires emotion, something that’s not always a virtue when it comes to interpersonal communication in business. But with the apology it’s essential.

[box style=”gray,info” ]How to Deal with Offensive People[/box]

Here’s how to apologise in a sincere way:

Making-an-apology

  1. Be sincere;
  2. Proceed.

If you’re finding sincerity difficult, we’d like to offer some tips.

Dig deep. Deeper. A liiittle deeper. Good. Now, eye contact. No smiling. Chin down. Lower. Imagine you’re a dog who’s eaten part of – not all of – a roast off the counter.

However, you don’t want to look too sorry. You’re not a supplicant here. And you’re not beneath the other party. After all, what you’re doing is a dignified thing. What you’re doing is a powerful thing.

You’re ending a grudge and regenerating good will. If done the right way, an apology can take a broken relationship and not only fix it but make it stronger than it was before. It’s a powerful investment. It doesn’t cost a thing. And if you follow through on its promise, it lasts forever.

Quiz: Should you apologise?

1. Since the event in question, how many times have you awakened in the middle of the night tossing and turning?

A. 1 (2)

B. 2 (4)

C. 3 (6)

D. 4 or more times (8)

E. Shh. I’m trying to sleep here. (0)

2. That regret you feel …

A. Pang (1)

B. Twitch (3)

C. Stitch (5)

D. Paroxysm (20)

3.Would your mother be proud of you right now?

A. Yes (0)

B. No (5)

4. Say “I’m sorry” out loud. Feel better?

A. Yes (8)

B. No (0)

5. It’s okay. Let it out. There, there. We all make mistakes.

A. I’ve just [sob] been carrying this burden around [sob] for so long [sob]. (30)

B. Are we done here? I’ve got work to do. (0)

KEY

  • Fewer than 10 points: You don’t need to apologise.
  • More than 10 points: Apologise.
  • More than 15 points: Apologise. Follow up with a fruit basket.

Key Technical Matters

  • Reading your apology from a set of prepared notes does not connote sincerity.
  • Having a representative read your apology from a set of prepared notes really does not connote sincerity.
  • Eye contact.
  • No muttering.
  • An apology has three main parts: Acknowledgement; explanation; expression of remorse. If you’re not covering all three, it’s not an apology.
  • An apology should not include the words ‘if’ or ‘but’. Those are qualifying words that render an apology meaningless.
  • Since your moral standing diminishes exponentially with each passing day, an apology is most effective if it comes before the offence has even been acknowledged by the offended party.
  • But once the offence has been acknowledged by the offended party, the apology should be offered no less than 24 hours later. Anything sooner, and your apology will seem rushed, insincere and hollow.
  • “I’m sorry if you got offended” is not an apology.
  • “I’m sorry, you pathetic nuisance” is not an apology.
  • “I’m sorry-ish” is not an apology.
  • “I’m not in any way sorry” is not anywhere close to being an apology.
  • ‘Hugging it out’ may be suggested only by the offended party.
  • ‘High-fiving it out’ is not really a thing.
  • ‘Crying it out’ is a little much.

[box style=”gray,info” ]5 Tips to Keep You in a Positive State of Mind[/box]

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Self Development

Listening To These 8 Audiobooks On Success Is A Better Use Of Your Long Commute

Commuting is mostly just unpaid work, unless you make an effort to learn something along the way.

John Boitnott

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Commutes are getting longer, and in some cities they’re up to two hours each way. I have a friend in Los Angeles who does this. He passes the time with audiobooks. Now that’s still a lot of time to be stuck in transit, but he doesn’t view it that way. He says it allows him plenty of time to feed his personal and professional goals.

I’ve spent years listening to literature in the car while commuting, but somewhere along the line I switched over to books on business and personal improvement. I mostly gravitated toward amazing people who built their success from scratch and who experienced tremendous hardship. It stands to reason that if you’re dealing with hardships like a long commute, it’s important to hear motivational words that can help you transcend the difficulties.

Here are eight audiobooks that will help grow your success, both personal and professional, on your next commute:

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Self Development

3 Questions To Guide You To Success In 2018

Most of the goals we set have some external component to it. Some component that we cannot control. Yet, we act like we can.

Erik Kruger

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3 Questions To Guide You To Success In 2018

Goal setting as a concept makes perfect sense. At the most basic level you decide on the destination and then plot the way to get there. But as with many things, we like to overcomplicate that which should be simple.

Before you know it, you end up with 2 big goals in 15 different areas of your life and 100 micro goals that will help you reach your 30 big goals.

Complicating something simple. Some of the biggest obstacles to people in reaching their goals are:

  • The overestimate the effort it will take to achieve those goals
  • They want to go from 0-100km/h in the blink of an eye
  • Life is dynamic and static goals often do not make sense
  • They get so entrenched in the day to day running of things that goals get pushed aside.

What if instead of goals, we just focused on giving our best every day?

Of course, you still want to have an indication of where you are going.

But, if you are giving your 100% every day then you can forego the micro goals for a better way of calibrating your compass… using questions.

Related: Goal Setting Guide

I suggest you ask yourself these three questions regularly:

1. What does better look like?

The question at the heart of development and incremental improvement. This question allows you some creative space in which you can imagine a better future.

  • What does better health look like?
  • What does a better business look like?
  • What does better customer service look like?
  • What does better leadership look like?

By reflecting on this question, you materialise the gap between where you are and where you could be. Now, the only thing that is left is to align your daily actions with the better future you imagined.

2. What can I control?

Borrowed from Stoicism this question highlights the power of decision in your life. Epictetus said we should always be asking ourselves: “Is this something that is, or is not, in my control?”

Once you ask this of yourself regularly you will feel more in control of your life and more in control of your business.

Why?

Because your focus is solely on the things that you can influence. It restores the belief that you can actually impact the world around you in a meaningful way.

3. Was I impeccable with my actions today?

One inherent flaw with goal setting is that the goal setter often feels judged. As if we need more of that. In addition to the constant negative self-talk we have to endure we now have an additional source of judgement – whether we reached our goals or not.

As we discovered in question #2 We cannot control everything. Most of the goals we set have some external component to it. Some component that we cannot control. Yet, we act like we can.

So, instead of judging yourself, commit to giving your best every single day.

Related: The Tim Ferriss Approach to Setting Goals: Rig the Game so You Win


Accountability

What I love most about these questions is that they provide a built-in layer of accountability. Use them every day.

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Self Development

To Be Successful Stay Far Away From These 7 Types of Toxic People

You need a network of talented people, not toxic personalities who undermine you.

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Surrounding yourself with prospective mentors is an excellent way to build lifelong success. When Steve Jobs founded Apple, he learned from colleagues like Steve Wozniak about what it took to build computer hardware. And he learned from early investors like Mike Markkula about what it took to build a successful company and market a product. Now imagine if Jobs had surrounded himself with toxic personalities instead. It is likely that he would not have been able to create a company that is on course to be valued at $1 trillion.

If you interact with people who demonstrate questionable behaviour, you’re more likely to model that behaviour yourself or to become stressed as a result. At the very least, you will be missing out on the opportunity to network with more successful and inspiring individuals.

This article will review seven personality types that should be eliminated from your life in order to build your most successful self. Once these people are gone, you can work on building a network of people who influence you positively.

1. Micromanagers

According to a report by NPR, micromanagement is one of the biggest factors associated with employee dissatisfaction, lowered motivation and lack of professional creativity. To be successful, you must learn to solve problems independently. Micromanaging can make it difficult to develop these skills.

Related: Keep An Eye Out For Toxic Employees

2. Short-term thinkers

If you surround yourself with short-term thinkers, it will be difficult to know if an idea is destined for long-term success. Those who are narrow-minded may be more likely to dismiss one of your ideas because it will take time to develop into a meaningful success.

Take the creation of Airbnb as an example. The company was founded in 2008. At the time the “sharing economy” did not exist, and hotel chains like Starwood and Hilton dominated the lodging market. A short-term thinker would have criticised an idea like Airbnb.

In order for the company to be successful, Airbnb would need to change people’s attitudes and expectations about travel. They would need to encourage people to be comfortable staying with strangers, and they would need to find ways to mitigate possible liability should something tragic happen during a customer’s stay.

Well-respected venture capitalists decided to pass on Airbnb because of these short-term concerns. The Airbnb founders were only able to find success once they connected with people who were comfortable thinking long term.

3. Pessimists

pessimistsPessimism is not always a bad trait; at times it can help entrepreneurs to recognize certain pitfalls that might otherwise be overlooked. However, a steady diet of pessimism is toxic when it comes to taking big professional risks.

As David Armor, an assistant professor of psychology at Yale University, says, “An entrepreneur starting up a company, for example, might drive himself to work 18-hour days for months and even years because he optimistically believes that there will be a big payoff for him at the end.” Conversely, a pessimistic attitude would make it difficult to tolerate such a prolonged stressful situation.

For those interested in taking on stressful professional situations, pessimistic people should be avoided in most cases.

Related: Tips on how to Survive and Thrive in a Toxic Workplace

4. Selfish people

Relationships that contribute to success are mutually beneficial. This dynamic cannot exist when dealing with selfish people. As a result, it is best to eliminate selfish people from your life in order to make room for more giving relationships.

A recent study found that a job applicant who is referred by an existing employee is 15 times more likely to be hired than someone who applies via a job board. If you befriend a selfish person, you probably can’t rely on them to introduce you to new career opportunities. However, forming connections with someone who is altruistic could give you a professional leg up.

5. Risk-averse personalities

Business success is about making informed decisions by weighing risks and rewards. If you are surrounded by people who over-index on possible risks while ignoring the possible rewards, it will be challenging to identify good business opportunities.

Take Amazon as an example. In 2014 Amazon launched a smartphone called the Fire Phone. In the end, the phone was not successful. Following the unsuccessful launch of the Fire Phone, risk-averse people might have avoided developing another piece of computer hardware.

But instead, Amazon correctly assessed the opportunity for an in-home smart speaker, and launched the Amazon Echo just one year later. Today, Echo has 75 percent of the smart-speaker market in the United States.

6. Unmotivated individuals

People who lack motivation or work ethic set a bad example for those interested in working diligently to become a professional success. There is no worse colleague than someone who simply does the bare minimum to get by.

Rather than associate yourself with people who cut corners or avoid hard work, try to surround yourself with people who are motivated to succeed. Collaborating with people who have a healthy drive for success can instill an extra dose of motivation in you.

Related: 3 Strategies for Dealing With Toxic People

7. Spendthrifts

Financial responsibility is a critically important quality to develop if you want to become successful. Warren Buffet is perhaps the supreme example of a financially responsible and successful person.

Buffet is the third wealthiest person in the world, worth nearly $80 billion. But despite his professional success, Buffet does not spend his money on flashy cars or large homes. In fact, Buffet still lives in the modest home in Omaha, Nebraska, that he purchased in 1958.

Those who associate with spendthrifts may be more motivated to make irresponsible financial decisions in order to fit in. At the very least, it will be harder to associate with people who make good financial choices, as these personalities are frequently diametrically opposed.

Conclusion

Business is all about who you know. From landing a new job to launching a new company, your network will enable or prevent future professional success. When developing a network of talented people, it is best to avoid toxic personalities who could set a bad example or demotivate you.

Be sure to avoid people who are micromanagers and short-term thinkers, as they can make it difficult to think autonomously. Risk-averse individuals or pessimists may cause you to think twice about great business ideas, and spendthrifts or selfish people may hamper your ability to grow. Last but not least, stay away from unmotivated individuals, as your success is dependent on your willingness to work diligently in order to succeed.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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