Question: Who is the intended audience?
Answer: Leaders with responsibility for organizations, teams, tasks, and personal relationships. That includes executives, managers, and team leaders, as well as anyone interested in becoming more effective by improving their professional and personal relationships.

Q: What is the book about?
A: This is a guidebook to effective apology. The central conclusion of Effective Apology is that the willingness and ability to apologize are critical requirements of leaders today. The book supports this conclusion with over 75 examples of apology, both effective and ineffective, taken from the worlds of business, politics, sports, popular culture, and relationships. Leaders who believe that accountability, transparency, and humility are the hallmarks of modern leadership must understand the role apology plays in earning confidence, maintaining trust, and repairing mistakes.

Q: Why are you the best person to write this book?
A: As a practicing business journalist for over 30 years, I’ve had the opportunity to study thousands of companies and their leaders. Many years ago I began to notice something interesting. Organizations and leaders that had a culture of apology and taking responsibility for their mistakes tend to be more successful than those which resist apologizing and deny responsibility.

I have also seen that personal relationships follow the same pattern. Marriages, friends, parent-child relationships all benefit when one or both parties know how to apologize. I have been successfully married for 34 years not because I haven’t made any mistakes, but because I have a certain capacity for taking responsibility for those mistakes and apologizing sooner rather than later.

This book brings together my professional and personal experiences to support my conclusion that apology is not free, but it’s less expensive than the alternatives of lying, denial, spinning, and stonewalling.

Q: How is this book different from other books on this topic?
A: Effective Apology is a practical, hands-on fieldbook on how to apologize. It offers practical suggestions, lists, suggested wording, and concrete advice on when to apologize and how to apologize in a variety of recognizable situations. Other books on apology tend to be philosophical or academic.

My book is hands-on. It shows you what to say and what not to say. It focuses on the role of apology in repairing relationships and further reconciliation. The book argues that there is but one test of effective apology: does the apology tend to repair the relationship that has been strained and support the eventual reconciliation of the parties.

Q: Is there anything else we should know about this book?
A: The book defines apology as the practice of extending yourself because you value the relationship more than you value the need to be right.

How do you know when you have apologized? Try this test.

Did you state in plain language what you did wrong? Did you accept responsibility for those errors without defensiveness or hedging? Did you express remorse (“I’m sorry”) in direct and personal terms? Did you offer appropriate restitution? Did you promise not to repeat the offense?

If your apology embraces each of these five components, you have offered a wholehearted apology. The book describes these five steps as the Five Rs: Recognition (“yes, I lost the cell phone you I borrowed from you.”), Responsibility (“I’m responsible. I was thoughtless with your property.”), Remorse (“I’m sorry.”), Restitution (“Of course, I’ll replace your phone.”), and Repetition (“I promise to be more careful in the future”).

Apology in a networked world is about giving up the desire to control the conversation. The willingness to apologize signals strength, character, and integrity—real leadership is impossible without it. Human progress occurs one apology at a time.

More information about the book is available