The 6 elements of an effective apology, according to science

Posted on April 13, 2016

Photo: flickr

There are six components to an apology - and the more of them you include when you say you're sorry, the more effective your apology will be, according to new research. But if you're pressed for time or space, there are two elements that are the most critical to having your apology accepted.

"Apologies really do work, but you should make sure you hit as many of the six key components as possible," said Roy Lewicki, lead author of the study and professor emeritus of management and human resources at The Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business.

In two separate experiments, Lewicki and his co-authors tested how 755 people reacted to apologies containing anywhere from one to all six of these elements:

1. Expression of regret

2. Explanation of what went wrong

3. Acknowledgment of responsibility

4. Declaration of repentance

5. Offer of repair

6. Request for forgiveness

While the best apologies contained all six elements, not all of these components are equal, the study found.

The research is published in the May 2016 issue of the journal Negotiation and Conflict Management Research.


Source material from Ohio State University

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