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