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Learn to apologize for fun and profit

By Lisa Neal / December 2007

TYPE: OPINION
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Sometimes I have mental mash-ups where disparate ideas merge in my head. My latest mash-up combined a Fortune magazine article with a conversation I had with a friend, Hal, who has been working with a life coach to identify what he loves to do that can also earn an income. The Fortune article correlated the likelihood of apologizing with salary. It quoted a study that said "a person's willingness to apologize was an almost perfect predictor of their place on the income ladder" and extrapolated that apologizing "now and then is an indicator of strong people skills, essential for moving up in almost any organization." My idea was to teach people apologizing through-you guessed it-e-learning.

I imagined the course. I would use video to depict scenarios in which problems occur and an apology is offered. Since the study showed that the highest earners apologized more regardless of whether they believed they were at fault or not, the videos would have to include a wide variety of situations. Students could decide whether the apology was delivered effectively for the situation. And to encourage reflection, students could be further asked what they would do in the same situation. Then there would be additional scenarios and a coach would discuss student responses, offering feedback by phone or email. Students would be asked to try out their skills in real-life situations and report back to their coach.

I don't know what the course would cost to develop, although producing video and providing coaching can be expensive. But the cost might be insignificant compared to the resulting earnings, not to mention family harmony.

An online pearl merchant commissioned this study because it noticed that "a growing number of customers, when asked the reason for their pearl purchases, replied that the baubles were given as an apology, usually to a wife or girlfriend." I might contact the merchant to see if they want to sponsor this course. Either that or the AMA, the American Management Association, since this could aid in better leadership and workplace skills, or perhaps the other AMA, the American Medical Association, since there has been a lot of interest in the role of apology in reducing medical malpractice.

Here we are quickly approaching New Year's Eve, a time when so many make resolutions. I'll bet "I'll lose weight" (how many calories can I save by giving up Caramel Frappuccinos?) surpasses "I'll earn more money" at the top of the list. What about resolving to take a course to learn to say "I'm sorry"?



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ADDITIONAL READING

    Lisa Neal
  1. Five Questions...for Christopher Dede
  2. Five Questions... for John Seely Brown
  3. Five questions...for Shigeru Miyagawi
  4. "Deep" thoughts
  5. 5 questions... for Richard E. Mayer
  6. Designing usable, self-paced e-learning courses
  7. Want better courses?
  8. Just "DO IT"
  9. "Spot Learning"
  10. Q&A with Saul Carliner
  11. When will e-learning reach a tipping point?
  12. Online learning and fun
  13. In search of simplicity
  14. eLearning and fun
  15. Everything in moderation
  16. The basics of e-learning
  17. Is it live or is it Memorex?
  18. The Value of Voice
  19. Predictions for 2006
  20. Five questions...
  21. Formative evaluation
  22. Senior service
  23. Blogging to learn and learning to blog
  24. My life as a Wikipedian
  25. Five questions...for Elliott Masie
  26. The stripper and the bogus online degree
  27. Five questions...for Lynn Johnston
  28. Five questions...for Tom Carey
  29. Not all the world's a stage
  30. Five questions...for Karl M. Kapp
  31. Five questions...for Larry Prusack
  32. Five questions...for Seb Schmoller
  33. Do distance and location matter in e-learning?
  34. Why do our K-12 schools remain technology-free?
  35. Music lessons
  36. Of web hits and Britney Spears
  37. Advertising or education?
  38. Five questions…for Matt DuPlessie
  39. Back to the future
  40. Serious games for serious topics
  41. Five (or six) questions...for Irene McAra-McWilliam
  42. Learner on the Orient Express
  43. Predictions for 2004
  44. How to get students to show up and learn
  45. Q&A
  46. Blended conferences
  47. Predictions for 2002
  48. Learning from e-learning
  49. Storytelling at a distance
  50. Q&A with Don Norman
  51. Talk to me
  52. Q&A with Diana Laurillard
  53. Do it yourself
  54. Degrees by mail
  55. Predictions For 2003