Posted by  Shawn Callahan —April 30, 2009
Filed in Communication, Employee Engagement, Leadership Posts

Last year I wrote about how the skill to apologize will become even more valuable as the world get even more complex and speedy. Things will go wrong.

Well it looks like some books are being published on the topic. Here’s what Tom Peters has discovered.

In What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, Marshall Goldsmith proclaims: “I regard apologizing as the most magical, healing, restorative gesture human beings can make. It is the centerpiece of my work with executives who want to get better.”

All I can add is:


I believe that skill at Apologizing is nothing short of a “strategic competence”!

“Strategic competence”? Absolutely! Customers lost for want of a timely and sincere “I’m sorry. My fault” number in the billions, from restaurant diners to aircraft engine purchasers.

And now there’s an entire book on the topic arriving May 1, Effective Apology: Mending Fences, Building Bridges, and Restoring Trust, by John Kador.

Read a whole book on the topic?


Damn it!


In addition to being an excellent “how to” guide, the book also captures hard evidence. For example, with a new policy on apologies, Toro, the lawn mower folks, reduced the average cost of a claim from $115,000 in 1991 to $35,000 in 2008—and the company hasn’t been to trial since 1994. The VA hospital in Lexington, Massachusetts, developed an astonishing approach to apologizing for errors (forthcoming—even when no patient request or claim was made). In 2000, the overall mean VA system malpractice settlement was $413,000. The Lexington VA hospital settlement # was $36,000—and there were far fewer per patient claims to begin with.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:

One Response to “Apologies”

  1. Cindy Says:

    I always think when APOLOGY occurs, it is way too late. QUALITY should be the focus. Should not EVER have this thought ‘we can give our apology later’. The right attitude should be: would rather be late than SORRY!
    How many apologies should one gives before customers begin to wonder about your products?

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