Language of Caring Update – The Art of the Apology: The Blameless – March 2017

Sometimes we are reluctant to apologize out of fear that if we do, we are personally accepting responsibility for the breakdown in communication, processes or service failures. The Blameless Apology does not assign blame or say that we are at fault; it simply empathizes with the patient and their situation. Saying “I am sorry this happened to you” or “I am sorry that you had that experience” communicates empathy. You are NOT assigning blame. You ARE saying that you are sorry that the situation occurred. An apology conveys your concern, which is what the patient wants to hear.

  • Apologize no matter what the situation or who is at fault. An apology is not about guilt. It is about acknowledging that the patient or customer’s expectations were not met.
  • Always say “I’m sorry,” not “we’re sorry.”
  • You heart needs to be engaged. Say it like you mean it.

The following are examples of blameless apologies:

  • “I am sorry that your food is cold. Let me re-heat that for you. ”
  • “I am sorry for the misunderstanding…”
  • “I am sorry that you are feeling this way.”
  • “I apologize for the inconvenience.”

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