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How to Apologize to a Group

by Shellie Braeuner, studioD

Whether it is a government official apologizing for the latest scandal, a company apologizing for a marketing faux pas or a celebrity whose bad behavior was caught on camera, this is the era of the apology. In an article for "Time," Dov Seidman, CEO of LRN, says that an apology is the “ultimate act of transparency and reconnection.” Apologizing correctly to a group helps you reconnect with the group and be accepted back into the fold. However, the apology does take a little more effort than simply saying the words “I'm sorry.”

Understand how your actions affected others. Before you start to consider an apology, examine your actions and their consequences. If people were hurt, consider how much responsibility you had in the situation. Think about why you decided to act or if you simply acted without thinking. Consider the needs of others in the aftermath of your behavior.

Apologize for what you did; don’t explain why you did it. An apology isn’t the time to explain why you made the decisions you made. Explanations can come across as excuses for your actions. Instead, a sincere apology should center on taking responsibility for your actions.

Be sincere. If you aren’t sorry for your behavior, don’t apologize. An apology should never be offered just to heal a situation.

Invite feedback, but don’t insist on it. Don’t assume that an apology is going to fix the situation or that you can resolve the situation by yourself. Instead, allow the group to offer suggestions on how to get things back on track.

Move on. Don’t get so mired in the situation or the apology that you can't deal with normal life or work. Instead, formulate a plan to prevent future problems and implement it. Accept the fact that others might eye you with suspicion for a time. Others might bring the issue up again in an attempt to manipulate you or a situation. If that happens, simply remind the person that you have apologized and that you consider the issue closed.


  • If you are speaking in front of a group, jot down notes beforehand to help you remember the points of your apology.

About the Author

Based in Nashville, Shellie Braeuner has been writing articles since 1986 on topics including child rearing, entertainment, politics and home improvement. Her work has appeared in "The Tennessean" and "Borderlines" as well as a book from Simon & Schuster. Braeuner holds a Master of Education in developmental counseling from Vanderbilt University.

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