Connect with us

Self Development

A Sorry State of Affairs

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




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:


  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)


  • 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]

Self Development

5 Inspiring Quotes From Madiba To Stir You Into Action On Mandela Day

In honour of Mandela Day, here are 5 of Nelson Mandela’s most inspiring quotes.

Casandra Visser



Prev1 of 5

Bouncing Back


“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

Prev1 of 5

Continue Reading

Self Development

25 Bad Words That Make Other People Feel Inferior

If the harshest thing you have to say about someone is partly true, say the other part.

John Rampton



Prev1 of 26


Did you know that in every language, there are more negative words than positive ones? It seems we need lots of words to describe our negative feelings, but we’re content with a handful of positive ones.

For instance, researchers have found that most cultures have words for seven basic emotions: Joy, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, shame and guilt.

That’s one positive emotion, and six negative

It’s no wonder so many of us have a hard time keeping our negative comments in check. Over the past six months I’ve been working on the verbal language that I’ve been using that I don’t even realize hurts others and in some cases makes them feel inferior. I even noticed that I’ve used a couple on my personal and business website. This is a “no-no” that I needed to fix.

This post will list 25 negative words you should avoid…so that you stop hurting, belittling and intimidating those around you!

Prev1 of 26

Continue Reading

Self Development

How To Control What You Can And Influence What You Can’t In Your Life

Every day you need to get up and face numerous challenges. Here’s how you can keep your head in the game — even when all you want to do is quit.

Erik Kruger




On Monday you wake up ready to take on the world. You’re focused, determined and business is doing well. Tuesday feels like you’re invincible and things could not be going any better. Wednesday, your world collapses. You doubt your ability to deliver to your clients. You wonder whether you should still pursue the same business. You think that quitting at this stage is easier than dealing with the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. And you are dramatically reminded that entrepreneurship is hard.

Mix in human nature and it becomes borderline insanity to try and build a business. And yet, the reward is worth it. I therefore want to share three strategies that might help you cope with this tough but deeply rewarding pursuit.

Influence and control

Most of the things in business and life are out of our control. You cannot control how other people react to your service or product. You cannot control how your employees will show up. You cannot control how the market will react and how that will affect your business.

Related: How You Can Do Big Things

This makes it very important to control what you can and then influence the rest to the best of your ability.

So, what can you control? You can control your actions, reactions and perceptions of the challenges you face. Meaning essentially, that you can control yourself and your efforts.

Do this with excellence and you will automatically influence the people around you and the situations you find yourself in.

Override your moods

If we only did the hard work when we felt like it, we would hardly get anything done. Our moods fluctuate like the tides of the ocean. Not because we are temperamental but because the external world has a profound impact on us.

When you wake up to news that the economy is in recession, it has the potential to plant seeds of doubt in your mind. When you receive an email from a disgruntled customer complaining about your service, it has the potential to ruin your day.

The fact is that you can receive a hundred testimonials singing your praise, but you will obsess and become despondent over that one negative comment.

This means that we have to move beyond our emotions. Sure, they are important in the decision-making process and for fostering meaningful relationships. But you cannot allow them to dictate when you will do work.

In other words, work hard, irrespective of your moods, especially on the days when you don’t feel like it.

Create a calibration practice

One of the best ways to deal with this rollercoaster effect is to create a daily calibration practice. I am a big fan of any action taken on a daily basis. Not only because of the accumulation effect that occurs over time, but also because it keeps you focused.

So, what does a daily calibration practice look like?

It differs for everyone. It could range from meditation to a vision board to journaling to listening to a specific playlist of songs. My suggestion is that you give journaling a go.

Because it’s sometimes difficult to start a new calibration practice, I have included my journaling template for you.

It’s called ‘J1G’ (pronounced as jig). I use Evernote or a notebook from HumanWrites for journaling purposes.

J: Journal

For the first few minutes, simply allow your hand to run across the paper. The idea is for you to dump as many of your thoughts onto the paper as possible.

Some questions you can answer in this section are:

  • What am I currently excited about?
  • What am I currently worried about?
  • Where am I currently winning?
  • What can I learn from what happened yesterday?

1: The one thing that you want to get done today

In this time, I usually have a look at my to-do list and decide which one action I want to get done today. Write it down and then expand on why it is the most important action. How will it move you or your business forward?

Related: Better Thinking For A Better World

G: Gratitude

In the last section, you simply write down three things that you are grateful for. Trust me, this is an important daily practice, but even more so on the days when you feel as if life is beating you down.

When you focus on the things that you are grateful for, you crowd out fear and shift your state of mind to a more positive and productive one.

The punch line

If you can stick to the three ideas I outlined above, I guarantee you will develop more resilience and perseverance. You are an entrepreneur because you chose to be one. Do not allow life to impose its will on you. I have no doubt that you will be better off because of all the challenges you face. Not in spite of them.

Continue Reading



Recent Posts

Follow Us

We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.