One part of keeping lots of balls in the air is that sometimes you drop one, and at times the dropped ball doesn’t just affect you but it affects someone else personally or professionally. And when you screw up, you need to apologize and try to make amends. Best is face to face so they can see you’re sincere and willing to make this contact and try to mend any damage done when you screwed up. If you can’t meet face to face, then do it over the phone. And if you can’t do it over the phone, do it by way of a well thought out and expressive email.
I had an incident where I backed out of a filming event for ManaNation, leaving the event organizer in a lurch. It was my fault for not following up properly and letting it drop. Thankfully the cost to him was minimal and he is a very good guy. But I screwed up and I needed to contact him and make amends over it.
He lives a fair bit away and this apology was so far overdue that expediency took precedence over meeting him face to face, so I sat down with my cell and called him.
The phone is not an ideal medium for me, I’m not good at focusing on what I hear. I am one of those guys that if I am going to really listen over the phone I need to close my eyes to be sure I don’t get distracted. So I turned off the TV, sat in the living room away from the computer, and made sure I was free of distractions for the call.
I rehearsed what I wanted to say in my head, I wanted to be to the point without being rude. I also know he is usually quite busy, so I wanted to make sure now was the time to potentially have him on the phone for what could be a long phone call. And I wanted to clearly state my apology first, then an explanation of what happened (not an excuse.)
Me: “Hey [name], it’s Patrick, how are you doing?”
Him: “Hey Patrick, I’m fine, what’s up?”
M: “Listen, do you have a few minutes to talk? If you’re busy I can call back.”
H: “No, I’m free go for it.”
M: “Well I just wanted to call and apologize about the event last month.
And off we went. I began the conversation politely, giving him an option to have me call later if needed. As I mentioned above, this call was greatly overdue. This was for an event that happened a month ago, and I held off on the call initially to give him time to travel back home, but in doing so it fell off my radar and I didn’t want to make this call.
The conversation was shorter than I expected, he was receptive and we ended on decent terms. Not as high as they once had been, but at least the communication is open and we’re on the path to recovery.
Who likes admitting they screwed up?
But you have to do it, and you have to do it to them.
Not doing so costs you customers, clients, friends, and more.