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Does Apologizing Make You Look Weak as an HR Pro?

I'm sorry to tell you this, but yes.

See what I did there?  I apologized in advance for telling you that you apologize too much as an HR pro.  THAT'S A PRO MOVE, PEOPLE. Apologize

But I digress.  Here's the deal - as HR pros, we're hard-wired to do things automatically that no one else wants to do - tell people nice job, recognize people for their contributions, listen to someone vent when no one else will, etc.

Because we do all those people friendly things, a lot of us apologize more than we should.

A candidate is late for an interview. The turnover numbers are bad. An employee is having a hard time with a challenging manager.

Because we are in the people business, a lot of us find ourselves apologizing for things out of habit - we are simply too nice.

I'm here to tell you to apologize less for the things outside of your control.  You're conditioning people to think that you're not a player - and you most certainly are.

In addition, you shouldn't apologize for things that are in your control if outside factors conspired to make what you delivered less than stellar.

Explain why?  Yes.

Talk about what you're adjusting?  Yes.

Apologize? No.

Stop being weak. The next time you feel like you're going to say, "I'm sorry" in a business setting, catch yourself and explain why it is what it is - and where you/we/they go from there.  

Image from Jessica Hagy at Fortune:



Ron Ulrici

I'm in the Business-Business, not the People-Business. I teach our Managers to be in the People-Business and recognize their employees for their contributions and listen to them much, much more and I don't ever apologize for nagging them about it. HP got it right a long time ago, when they required all of their line managers to be human resource managers. At the time, their "Personnel Dept" just administered compensation and benefits. Interesting enough, that was the era when HP was wildly successful.


I've gotten this feedback in my personal life as well... always a good reminder! Would the same go for admitting fault when you make a mistake?


No, no way apologizing makes as you weak as an hr pro or whatever it might be. It's the best gesture at times.


I completely agree with your point author. Thou sounds rude but that's the bitter truth as an HR you should look for.


As an HR of a company, I get this question often, to be frank. But I nowhere feel being sorry for our mistake makes us look low in life.

I've gotten this feedback in my personal life as well... always a good reminder! Would the same go for admitting fault when you make a mistake?

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