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How to Apologize: For Small Businesses

As human beings and business owners, we’re all bound to make mistakes at some point. Nobody is perfect (not even Beyonce). Whether you say something disrespectful during a conversation with a client, or post something offensive on social media — you’ll need to know how to apologize. It’s to be expected, especially as you focus on being more inclusive. Even though these missteps might happen, there are ways you can handle it besides hiding in a closet and deleting all of your social media accounts. 

The most meaningful thing you can do when you make a mistake is apologize. Seems pretty straightforward, right? Well… you’d be surprised at how many people get defensive instead. And doing that just digs them further into a hole that they can’t get out of. Instead of trying to justify what you said or skew it so that it sounds a little less terrible, the best place to start is by tapping into your emotions. Right now is the time for a heartfelt and sincere apology. If you aren’t sure how to apologize, don’t worry check out the steps below.

1. Own your mistakes during your apology.

One of the biggest pitfalls people run into when apologizing is saying “I’m sorry I offended you”. That’s not an apology, because it’s not acknowledging what you did wrong. You need to recognize what you did wrong and validate that you hurt others. People want to hear that you know and understand exactly where you went wrong, because nothing will change if you aren’t able to recognize that.  

2. Offer an apology.

It’s time to say you’re sorry for what you did in a heartfelt and sincere way. Don’t be afraid to show some genuine emotion and let your guard down. It will give people the chance to connect with you while understanding and believing what you are saying. This is the most important part of knowing how to apologize.

3. Take action after your apology.

You should address what you are going to do to better yourself and make sure that you don’t make the same mistake twice. Maybe that involves educating yourself more, checking your biases, or having more open dialogues with folks. Whatever you plan to do- let it be known. This backs up your apology and shows your audience that you stand behind what you say. 


  • Take time to think about what you did, don’t rush into apologizing before realizing where you went wrong.
  • But don’t wait too long. Waiting too long to address the situation can come across like you are stalling to figure out what to say. 
  • Don’t cry. This isn’t the time for you to talk about how stressed you are about the situation. This apology is for the victims’ healing process. 

I hope that you never run into a situation where you need to apologize, but if you do you will know exactly how to apologize. You will simply acknowledge where you went wrong, make a genuine apology, and take action to avoid it happening again. Following these steps will reassure your audience that you are honestly remorseful for what you did and want to make things right. 

For more tips for running an inclusiveness business, like how to apologize, check out my Facebook group, Built to Be Inclusive.

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