Dealing With Wounded Clients & Friends (How To Apologize Well)

A strong analysis of the strength of Bezos’ apology for how Amazon wrongly deleted books off of peoples’ Kindles. Everyone in leadership will have to apologize from time to time. This gives great insight on how to do it well.

Another great principle was taught to me by a mentor Dave Guion.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Rom 12:15

If someone is wounded or defensive, don’t make all your counter arguments for how you were right and be highly defensive. They will have stopped listening to you at that point. A perfect example was modeled by Dave:

We were doing an huge student ministry event in the Alamodome featuring headline artist and communicators. Dave and I were charged with running a portion of the event before the show where youth bands got to play on two side stages before the main part of the event started. Friday night went off almost hitch free and we even image magnified the bands onto the jumbotrons. Saturday morning the second group of bands were supposed to play but the major network video switcher guys had been given the main event start and not the youth band start times. So though the bands played, they were not image magnified onto the giant screens. A student’s dad, perhaps not a Christ follower, approached the leadership of the event irrate who passed it onto us and asked us to meet with him. We had never legally promised to video or image magnify any of this and I knew it and Dave knew it.

When we met the dad in the corridor steam was coming out of his ears and his face reddened as he threatened suit. David lived out the mourn with those who mourn principal. He didn’t say, “Sir, those kids last night got lucky that the camera guys happened to be here and were willing to do pre-roll work. Your kid was fortunate enough to get selected so you should be grateful.” Instead, I watched David say, “_____, there is nothing more that I would have liked than for you to have the experience of watching your son on the large screen. I realize you were looking forward to that and we were looking forward to it, too. We tried our hardest to make it happen up to the very last minute, but unfortunately we couldn’t. I want you to know if somehow they were rolling tape, we will do our best to get you a copy of your son’s performance. I don’t know if they were, but I will do everything in my power to make it happen.” The situation was instantly diffused and the guy was saying, “Listen guys, I am sorry I came on so strong. It’s just that I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time and we had friends and relatives come……I appreciate all that you were doing.”

When we try to not be defensive and mourn with those who mourn, the walls come down. The principle works equally well if something was totally your fault.  A short-lesson that David Guion modeled for me so well that I have never forgotten. In fact, God has given the opportunity to practice it several times in the last few weeks….usually because of something that was my fault…ha!

You can follow Dave Guion on Twitter at one24worship.

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Jordan Fowler

Jordan helps small businesses grow as the owner of Moon & Owl Marketing, a marketing and advertising agency in Fort Worth, TX. Lover of cycling, track and field, and borderline Liverpool FC fanatic.

One thought on “Dealing With Wounded Clients & Friends (How To Apologize Well)”

  1. Great advice! I recently had to deal with a disgruntled individual. This person was very nasty with his/her words, which automatically would put me on the defense. But, before I responded, (it was email), I took a few deep breaths and then smiled through my entire response. I figured if I had a smile on my face while typing my response, I would be a more effective and positive communicator and be able to defusing the situation. 🙂

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