In my experience, the best way to make a bad situation worse is to apologize like a business instead of apologizing like a human being.
You are a human. The other party is a human. Don’t make it more complicated than it already is. Just be a human person.
- Say the words, “I’m sorry.”
You don’t have to be personally at fault to be sorry for someone else’s pain, but don’t apologize if you don’t mean it. If you can’t genuinely say, “I’m sorry,” then you should tap out.
- Acknowledge their pain.
Empathy is critical. Put yourself in their shoes and do your very best to understand how they have been impacted. Human people want to be heard, and (honestly) affirming their frustrations can help lessen tension.
- Take responsibility for solving the problem or finding someone who can solve the problem.
You don’t have to be personally at fault to be the person who takes personal responsibility for finding a solution. If you can’t solve the problem, take responsibility for finding the person who can. Don’t dump them on someone else, facilitate the solution.
- Don’t blame other people.
The best way to look petty is to blame others. You don’t have to say, “this is my fault,” but you also don’t have to say, “this is Mark’s fault.” The injured party usually cares more about not being injured anymore than they do about getting clarity around who is specifically at fault.