We all have breakdowns in our interactions with others. In those interactions where you are the “perpetrator,” how you recover will strengthen or weaken the relationship. And in business, relationships are essential to doing good work. It’s vital for leaders to contribute to meaningful, trusting relationships.
First, let’s be clear on a few terms.
Breakdown is when there is a momentary collapse in your integrity. You behave in a manner that’s not you and is inappropriate.
Perpetrator means you are the instigator of the breakdown.
Recovering from the Breakdown
The most effective way to recover from a breakdown you perpetrated is to say sorry to those involved.
- The apology must be face-to-face. It cannot be done through email. To be frank, that’s meaningless and gutless.
- Take ownership of the breakdown. In other words, clean up your mess.
- Do not make excuses or explain rationales for your behavior.
- Get straight to the apology. “I owe several apologies. My behavior was over the top…”
- Keep it short. Don’t ramble.
- Leave room for others to respond. If they don’t that’s okay. More time may need to pass.
- It may be necessary to talk about next steps. It depends on the severity of the breakdown, however.
A leader who can say, “I’m sorry” sets a standard of interaction that deepens relationships. It also lets others know that it’s okay to be human. Sure we all have “stuff” going on in our lives, and sometimes we take out our stress on others. A sincere apology lets others know the importance of team and camaraderie. It’s an act of humility.
The leader who can say, “I’m sorry” signals to the team that community trumps individuality