If you didn’t, Reed Hastings, Co-founder and CEO of Netflix wrote an apology and explanation for a significant pricing change that took place in late July.
If you haven’t seen it, reading it now, will make this piece more useful (and interesting). After I read it, I had three observations about apologies, that I will share now.
The piece opens with:
I messed up. I owe everyone an explanation.
This is a great example of an apology, because it is direct, clear and brief. There is no way to misunderstand or sugarcoat it. Mr. Hastings is apologizing, and taking responsibility for his decisions/actions. This is a powerful example of an apology, especially in a public forum. Far too often people in public don’t apologize anywhere nearly this effectively.
Do you apologize in a clear and direct way?
Do you truly take responsibility when you apologize?
The piece continues with:
It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming, and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. I’ll try to explain how this happened.
I think everyone will agree that an apology shared sooner is more effective. I wish Mr. Hastings has shared his apology sooner.
How soon do you apologize?
After the opening two paragraphs the piece extends for a long time. And, as promised, Mr. Hastings does offer an explanation. Unfortunately he doesn’t stop there. After the explanation, the largest part of the piece talks about an announcement of a change in Netflix’s business operations and organization.
Is this announcement important? Of course. While I have nothing against the announcement, nor the way it is written, the fact that it is attached to an apology, tends reduce the value of the apology. I brings into question the intention of the apology, which I just praised! Is it possible readers will wonder what crossed my mind? Is this apology diminished when it prefaces another agenda?
I do not know what the intention was, and I do know is that the apology would have been more effective if it had been pulled apart from the new announcement.
Do you keep your apologies separate from other messages?
I hope these thoughts help you think about how you can deliver a more effective apology, the next time you must.