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Timeliness is crucial for workplace apologies. Tensions can easily escalate to the point of making work unbearable for one or more parties.
Once you recognize that you owe an apology, do your best to make it as soon as possible, and try to turn the interaction into a constructive conversation.
In some situations, an apology can equate to an admission of guilt. If there are any concerns about the repercussions of an apology, you may want to consult with your legal department before making it.
However, if you messed up and the results are catastrophic, it's important to own the mistake and accept the consequences. If you try and shift the blame, someone else might pay, and others may lose respect for you.
If you are wrongly blamed for a mistake, make your case and speak up for yourself.
You may be tempted to cover for others, and while helping someone else out of a tough spot may seem noble, this could eventually evolve into someone using you as a doormat, or escaping responsibility for repeated mistakes.
Some business people employ underhanded or downright illegal tactics in their work. If you are pressured to do the same and refuse, there is no need to apologize. Your personal integrity is more important than smoothing over a stressful situation.
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