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At one time, apologies were frowned upon as an admission of fault, and they are still avoided in our adversarial judicial system. But outside the legal system, whether sincere or not, apologies often influence a negotiation decision. They are often used as an intentional tactic to gain advantage or to rehabilitate a deal or offer after rejection.


An example is when we answer a question with a solution of our choice: “I apologize for not meeting your expectations. Now you have no solution and you’ll have to go through the process again. You liked the service and the cost model. What was wrong with the deal? Let me redeem myself.”


The solution is to first determine whether the apology was authentic, or a way to put words in your mouth. Turn the tables by first accepting the apology, then correcting the behavior. If there was a real problem to be addressed, don’t let an apology flip you into nice-person mode. Call out the deal elements: “I accept your apology, but you are not entirely precise. The service does not meet our requirements.” Or, if the deal is not recoverable: “Thank you for your apology. You did nothing wrong, but I can’t close.”

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