As part of a larger article titled 10 Ways to Cut Health-Care Costs Right Now, I found item number 10 under the heading: Aplogize to the Patient.
This short piece quickly describes the financial impact of a program initiated by the Sorry Works! Coalition. Sorry Works! suggests that hospitals immediately inform patients and their families of medical errors, investigate the cause, change procedures if necessary, and offer a settlement if the heath-care provider is at fault.
In effect, they promote saying: “I'm sorry.”
According to the article, the University of Michigan Health System and the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago both reported significant (in the range of 40-50%) reduction in malpractice claims by applying the Sorry Works! program.
So, what's the implication to workplace conflict resolution?
Just say, “I'm sorry.”
Very rarely have I ever been involved in a dispute with another person when they were totally at fault. In most situations, I have contributed to the situation in one way or another.
Rather than debate the what I did or didn't say, what you did or didn't say, what I did or didn't intend, or what you did or didn't intend points of the conflict, just say “I'm sorry.”
I'm sorry for what I said or did. That's it. No justification. No rehashing of the events. No blaming.
Will this always work? No.
Will it usually work? Yes – the reduction in malpractice suits proves it.
“I'm sorry” flies in the face of our natural need to protect ourselves. It's often difficult to say, and it works.