The “5A” Way To Apologize

Posted on Apr 11, 2014 | Comments Off on The “5A” Way To Apologize

A great tool that I’ve acquired on handling apologies or any form of broken agreement.

Specifically this is if you need to apologize to someone else:

1. Acknowledge the broken agreement.

2. Accept Responsibility for having broken the agreement.

3. Account for why you broke the agreement (this can be tough!)

4. Apologize

5. Amend – what are you going to do to make it up to someone?

* * *

The 5 As in action

Here’s an example:

Hi Steve, I want to apologize for something. We had an agreement that I would meet you at 1100am. I arrived at 1110am, which is 10 minutes late. acknowledge

I gave myself 20 minutes to make the 20 minute drive. I encountered delays on the road – first a construction zone, then an accident. account

Because I didn’t leave early enough, I didn’t have any buffer time in case unexpected things popped up on the road. It’s my responsibility to be here on time, regardless of what happens on the road, so I accept responsibility for not leaving early enough. accept responsibility

I apologize for this, and want to make it up to you. apologize

To make it up to you, I am willing to stay late today to complete the new work that we choose in our meeting today. amend

Steve, what do you think?

* * *

Making the 5 As work in day-to-day life

1. This may seem like a lot to do or remember or say. It’s only about 30 seconds of talking, and can make a world of difference, even if you miss parts of it.

2. Driving is a pretty huge responsibility where mistakes can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and lives are literally on the line every time we get behind the wheel. Yet we find a way to make it second nature – so much in fact, that we can have a conversation with a passenger and listen to music at the same time. The 5 As is not that tough…. use it a few times and it can also become second nature.

3. You don’t need to use absolutely all of the 5 elements every single time.

4. The 5 elements can be done in any order; you don’t have to keep them in the order I’ve outlined above.

5. It can be super tough at times; It takes courage to be totally honest; recently I was late for something because I allowed myself to be distracted by a news story about a football game, then I saw a long-time family friend on the street. When it was time for me to own up to my broken agreement, it was tough to say essentially: “I chose to read the article and talk to someone else instead of honouring my agreement with you.” Yet I still did it, and it helped fix things, as embarrassing as it might have been.

I still miss parts of the 5 As from time-to-time, although the more I practice, the better I get. (Having lots of practice – is that a good sign or a bad sign?!?)

Happy apologizing 🙂