Wednesday, August 21, 2019


2019-08-22 13:24:08

Thanks all, very helpful blog post and comments. In my role as General Manager for a growing non-profit cultural organization (that also operates a public facility), I have apologized to various recipients (staff, Board, rental clients) over 25 years of operations ... basically if a significant enough situation arose where relationships were being negatively impacted, and where I believed we could have done better as an organization ... and could do better going forward. In all of these cases I would say the apologies worked, because the relationships either maintained or improved. The points I am taking away from the blog and comments regarding apologies are: character, intent, timing, tone ... and I would add follow-up/results. If you make a promise to do better, you have to do your best to keep that promise, and hold yourself (and your organization) accountable for keeping that promise. In terms of Mr. Trudeau, I believe he has broken faith with what many people (myself included) thought he stood for. In terms of Telus, interestingly I did not see the corporate apology until now. But I did have a more timely (and sincere seeming) apology from a live/chat helper, when I contacted Telus to find out what was going on because I had not heard of the outage. Learning opportunities all around. Thanks again.

2019-08-22 15:56:18

You make some wonderful points. Thank you for sharing.

The biggest takeaway for me is an apology can make the relationship stronger. I think that's the point Trudeau missed. A heartfelt apology to Canadians and JWR would have helped him, much more than hurt him in my opinion.


2019-08-22 11:36:38

Hi Grant,

The issue with a lot of persons (Trudeau is a prime example) is that they are unwilling to be accountable for their mistakes. Apologizing and then stating an excuse for the transgression is not the proper way to do this.

In Trudeau's situation he apologized and in the next breath stated that he did it to save jobs in Canada, specifically Quebec, which is not being accountable.

Thanks for the blog!

Frank Sobolewski

2019-08-22 12:28:21

You're welcome Frank. Good points.


2019-08-21 11:15:55

An excellent blog post on a recurring problem. I agree with Mr. Coach’s comments as well. The effectiveness of an apology is dependent on the pre-existing character of the person apologizing, the evident intent, and the timing of the action. I am afraid Mr. Trudeau comes up short on at least the first 2 of those 3 items.

2019-08-21 14:38:19

Great comment. You can easily argue Trudeau was guilty of all three, because he didn't react in a timely fashion to SNC-Lavalin to begin with.


2019-08-21 10:33:36

Grant, you draw an interesting comparison. What is common to both situations is timing and tone. Trudeau was already being criticized for apologizing for everything under the sun so he appears obstinate for not apologizing in light of the findings of the Ethics Commissioner. And his tone sounded like he wasn't really taking responsibility at all.

People suffered without email for two business days while TELUS ignored requests for an explanation from media and customers. The timing was too little too late. And the tone of a spokesperson badly reading carefully scripted words off a TelePrompTer was not credible.

An apology is not effective if people don't belief you'll take action to fix things and any public response has to come early in the crisis and be sincere.

Ken Coach

2019-08-21 14:36:50

Great comments Ken. Couldn't have said it better myself.