How to Accept a Professional Apology

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Accept the apology and clear the air.
Accept the apology and clear the air. (Image: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

From getting yelled at about a project deadline to a missed meeting, you’ve had to come down on someone while you were working. It’s already hard enough to reprimand someone in your personal life but in a professional setting, things can just become awkward. Once you have received an apology, learn how to accept it and move forward so that you can continue doing business as usual.

Tell the colleague who's apologizing to you that you accept her apology. Restate her apology to show you're both on the same page. For example, you could say, “Sure, I can accept your apology for being late.” This type of statement reminds her that you are aware of why she apologized in the first place. Make your acceptance polite so that you are making her feel as if things can improve and you’re not going to hold a grudge.

Reiterate your expectations and make it known what you expect from the person in the future. If an employee has been late to an important meeting, let him know that you expect him to be early to future meetings and prepare well in advance. Remind him that his tardiness cannot comprise any professional developments.

Create a benchmark for what is acceptable and set clear points for how you will handle reprimands. If something an employee has done has cost you money, time or clients, tell her so she understands the severity of her mistake. Communicate with her the effectiveness in her being apologetic and the penalties that are associated with such mistakes. She needs to know the level to which her mistake causes issues.

Move on and act professional after you've accepted the apology. Once you’ve done so, there’s no need for you to continue bringing up the issue over and again. Part of you being a professional is learning that people make mistakes.

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