Demonstrating Strength

On my desk at work, I have this little list printed out. I got it from Seth Godin’s blog, but I can’t seem to find the entry again, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

The list is titled “Demonstrating strength.”

The first thing on the list is, “Apologize.”

I love that.

The funny thing about apologies is that they seem to represent weakness. You’re admitting a failure, not only to yourself, but to someone else.

But they don’t really represent weakness. It takes a lot of guts to apologize. To genuinely apologize. How much gumption does it take to BS about something? To throw someone else under the bus? To make up a little white lie about why something wasn’t done, or why you acted the way you did?

I’ve been thinking about apologies a lot lately, especially since we’ve had this roofing problem in my house for YEARS. We’ve paid one roofing company $4,000 to replace our roof, then another $4,000 to repair our roof, and we’re still having a leaking issue. The insurance company sent out a new guy who gave us a quote to rebuild the back section of our roof for a third time — for another $2,000.

I called the original roofing company. What did I have to lose, right?

I wasn’t a bitch. I didn’t go in screaming at the owner. I just said, “Hey, we’ve paid you guys $8,000, and our roof is still leaking. Can you do anything?”

She came out yesterday to figure out the problem. She agrees that we need a flat roof system instead of the shingles they originally installed. It would have cost more money for them to originally install a flat roof system, but you know what she told me yesterday?

She apologized.

And then said they’re going to rebuild the back roof. For free.

That took strength. And money. It cost her something.

But you know what? It’s going to earn them a customer for life. And a considerable amount of word-of-mouth.

A heck of a lot better than a little white lie, huh?


5 thoughts on “Demonstrating Strength

  1. Ah, the joys of being a homeowner. I wish we’d had a similar experience with the plumber whose shoddy work on our brand new house has ended up costing us and the insurance company about 30k in repairs over the past 2 years (our house was built in 2006). But … no. You’re right, it takes a lot of courage and strength to apologize and make amends. It means taking a risk and accepting the cost of your mistake, whatever it is. I’m glad the roofing company is stepping up.

  2. We had a roofing disaster, too–our contractor had the entire roof torn off when we got a freak October thunderstorm. POURING water for about an hour. Had it coming through the light fixtures in the house, running down the walls (inside the wall and out); I set up every container that would hold water.

    So even though this was not entirely his fault, the contractor replaced the light fixtures, replaced drywall, got the carpet restretched and cleaned. Our insurance adjustor said this was the first time in his career that a contractor had followed through without a court judgement.

    So I would add “commitment” to the “apologize” part of strength.

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