While reading this article on how difficult it is to say: “I am sorry” in different cultures, it struck me that things which appear to be so simple on the surface can have a tremendous impact. This it not only true when speaking about image, communication/negotiation style and branding of organizations; it is also crucial when it comes down to the level of personal relationships (at work and in private). Whenever people from different cultures communicate, they have to be mindful about how and if certain emotions are transmitted.
In that sense it is already helpful to look inside yourself and your cultural background/worldviews to see how you are actually apologizing. Is it something that comes quite naturally to you? Do you use words or rather gestures? Or don’t you say anything at all? It already makes a major difference if you are a woman or a man but adding the cultural lens to the problem, doesn’t make things easier.
Next time you meet with your team or speak to friends from different nationalities and cultural backgrounds, please be mindful about how easy/not that easy it is for them to acknowledge mistakes and say “I am sorry”. It can have a huge impact on the quality of the relationship and what it is build of: mutual trust!
Interesting posts on the subject: