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The 6 Elements of an Effective Apology Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

The 6 elements of an effective apology

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


The research is published in the May 2016 issue of the journal Negoti­ation and Conflict Management Research. Lewicki’s co-authors were Robert Lount, associate professor of management and human resources at Ohio State, and Beth Polin of Eastern Kentucky Univer­sity.

There are six components to an apology – and the more of them you include when you say you’re sorry, the more effective your apology will be, according to new research.

But if you’re pressed for time or space, there are two elements that are the most critical to having your apology accepted.

Element of a Meaningful Apology

1. Expression of regret
2. Explan­ation of what went wrong
3. Acknow­ledge respon­sib­ility
4. Declar­ation of repentance
5. Offer of repair
6. Request for forgiv­eness

Critcal Elements (3 & 5)

While the best apologies contained all six elements, not all of these components are equal, the study found.

“Our findings showed that the most important component is an acknow­led­gment of respon­sib­ility. Say it is your fault, that you made a mistake,” Lewicki said.

The second most important element was an offer of repair
“One concern about apologies is that talk is cheap. But by saying, ‘I’ll fix what is wrong,’ you’re committing to take action to undo the damage,” he said.

How to Deliver an Apology

Second & Third Effective Levels

The next three elements were essent­ially tied for third in effect­ive­ness: expression of regret, explan­ation of what went wrong and declar­ation of repentance.

The least effective element of an apology is a request for forgiv­eness. “That’s the one you can leave out if you have to”