Sooner or later, everyone is going to screw up at work. Whether your mistake is a big one or a small one, you’ll begin to make things right by sucking it up and saying you’re sorry as soon as possible. It’s not necessary to make an elaborate apology; usually, the shorter the better. It’s a pretty simple process, really. Realize you need to make that apology, shore up the courage to do it, and then execute the apology and move on.
However you decide to word it, one great rule of thumb is to remember that your apology is not intended to exonerate you, to allow you an opportunity to blame the problem on someone else or on certain circumstances, or even to make you look good. Instead, the apology needs to be about the person or people you’ve wronged. With that in mind, don’t try to make excuses about why things happened a certain way. Focus on moving forward and making things right. Here are some simple phrases to get you started.
I was wrong.
There it is, plain and simple. When you admit plainly that you were in the wrong, you sometimes don’t need to say much more. The simple statement opens up the door for the wronged party to share her views or to let you know how it made her feel.
I understand your concern.
After you admit you’re in the wrong, let the person know you are concerned about her feelings. Other ways to say it include something like "I know that I hurt you" or "I know how that made you feel."
How can I make this right?
Perhaps the most important part of your apology is the part where you start to make amends. Show the person you want to fix the problem. It’s OK to suggest a solution yourself, but you might get more traction by allowing the person you wronged to make suggestions for fixing the issue.
I’ll do it differently next time.
Here again is a chance to admit you were wrong and to show that you’re interested in making a change. Start by saying "I’ll do it differently," and if the other person has suggested changes, rephrase what the person said to show him you were listening to his suggestions.
Send a simple gift.
Gifts are not appropriate for every co-worker or boss, but in certain situations, they can show you were willing to go the extra mile. If your boss is a coffee lover, buy him a bag of his favorite beans along with a short note of apology. If your co-worker enjoys the movies, get her a gift card to the local theater. Think of something personal -- but not so personal that it’s inappropriate.
When you make a mistake big enough to warrant an apology, there’s no time like the present to get out there and do it. By taking the time to say a short and sweet "I’m sorry," you all can move on and get back to job at hand.