I’m sorry

I was driving home from hot yoga on Sunday morning and I passed a billboard from a regional bank that is not doing so well these days. In my humble opinion they made some poor choices. Their stock is now… a bit low. And their employees seem to have lost that swing in their step. I imagine shareholder meetings aren’t very friendly.

Anyway this billboard proclaims in typical bank speak: Time to Talk to our Business Experts.


Well it crossed my mind that a better, more honest set of words might simply be:

We’re sorry.

Now I know there are most likely all sorts of lawyers that would say never, ever admit guilt. But sometimes, and I know this from personal and professional experience the phrase “I’m sorry” — if it’s spoken from the heart — can be remarkably powerful. And it can move a relationship forward.

Years ago we went to a new business meeting and shared an idea (not our normal style to jump in with random ideas, but hey we were young and starry eyed). Anyway this meeting was with a very large company that had done some really stupid things to hang on to customers. You know like making it hard to cancel your service that you really no longer needed or loved. And they were stunned at our notion to simply say: We’re sorry.

Didn’t drink our kool-aid at all. Oh well. Have to say for the record that I have never been so certain in my life that the strategy would have worked. And would have helped them as a company. Trust me they really needed to say sorry and mean it. Guess that’s why we didn’t get the gig.

I got an email recently from a friend and it was just one line. My favorite emails are often just one liners.

All it said was this:

I am so sorry.

I kept it. And I read it whenever I need it. It was just a rather simple little goof up he was apologizing for — but he really meant it. And that touched me on a level that I can’t explain. I kept it not because I wanted to hear him say it over and over again, but I kept it and I re-read it because I want to remember the power of that one simple phrase.

When has a simple apology completely changed your mind about a situation or a company? Come on its Tuesday. Share with me. I’m not writing these blogs just to hear myself talk.

BTW – this post pretty much sums up how I feel about the Domino’s thingy. It was just an ad campaign.

You have to mean it for it to be powerful.

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