When I was a little kid, I was playing at a friend’s house, right before we camped out in his backyard. Somehow, I managed to rip a small hole in the side of our tent. Darn those yard Jarts…if they don’t put your eye out, they’ll definitely make an entrance path for mosquitos!
As my friend’s mom came out to see the damage to the tent, I felt horrible. It was an accident, and really, not a very bad one in the grand scheme of things.. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry…” spilled from my mouth. My friend, in his 8 year old wisdom, repeated some retarded phrase he’d heard somewhere before, “Sorry doesn’t make up for it.”
As a third grader, I didn’t have the lawyerly ability to retort, “What DOES make up for it? Sackcloth and ashes? 20 Hail Marys? $50 for a new tent?”(not sure where I would have gotten the Hail Marys since neither of us was Catholic, but I digress…)
In the last couple of weeks, there have been two service providers who’ve had major snafus. In both cases, the representative said repeatedly, “I -Do- apologize…”(emphasize the “do”, as if this makes it all right). I felt like my young friend and I wanted to say, “Sorry doesn’t make up for it…”
Yet, I’d then have to answer my own question: what does?
In both cases, the reps thought their apology would right the wrong. But it doesn’t. So, in both cases, the wrong has to be righted in another way. Two different situations with different outcomes, but it felt like both wanted to apologize, re-schedule their work and go on about their merry business.
I have a personal policy of doing everything in my power NOT to screw up someone else’s plans, work, schedule, etc. I’m human, so of course it happens time to time. When it does, the first thing out of my mouth is an apology, an admission that I screwed up and several different offers of how I can make it right. Apologies without future actions are empty promises…and no one likes promises that aren’t kept.