Apologies are an essential method of repairing relationships in the workplace. Admitting when we are wrong can be very difficult and sometimes create conflict. When we react to such conflict without sincerity or authenticity, we end offering an ineffective apology. There are four main types of ineffective apologizing in the workplace. They include being empty, excessive, incomplete, and in denial. To apologize effectively, we must stay humble, keep our emotions in check and keep it real. Real apologies often include personal change. When done right, not only will you effectively repair work relationships, but you can also grow personally from it.


Staying humble and calm can be very difficult when we think we are right. I worked with a client who was known for being difficult. For years I never experienced this side of her directly. Then about two years ago we worked on a project together and it went badly. The relationship was damaged. I agonized for months over needing to reconcile. Sadly, neither of us were really willing to change our ways and the window for change closed. We are still cordial, but we know that our methods are two different to work together again. It was a hard lesson.


Molinsky, A. (2016, November 25). The 4 Types of Ineffective Apologies. Harvard Business 38(3), 420–437.