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HBR - How to Give a Meaningful Apology

"I'm sorry, I just can't stop crying," Rick*, a manager in sales at a Fortune 100 company said to me — and then to Jim, a Senior VP at that company and also Rick's boss.

Jim looked at me, not knowing what to do next.

I had been called in to see about mending a rift between the two. While it had been building for some time, it had reached a climax when Jim had yelled at Rick in a team meeting, "I don't even know why I bother with you! You are an utterly useless human being!"

Rick was shaken and abruptly got up to leave the room — whereupon Jim yelled out to him, "Useless and a coward to boot!"

The rest of the team was speechless. Many of them looked down or away, while others stared like deer in the headlights.



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