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“How To Control Your Elephant” Training

Why shrug-free “sorrys” are important – even for world champions

Man shrugging when saying sorry indicating that he doesn’t care

A slight shrug says "I don't care". Read this post and you'll never shrug again!

When "sorry" looks like this, we neither mean it not care

"You Brits have gotta be the world champions at saying sorry. Even when someone bumps into you; you say sorry.”

So says an American friend of mine and how right she is!

Last week on a rush-hour London Underground train, I accidentally trod on a fellow passenger’s foot. As I turned towards him to say the inevitable "sorry"… he beat me to it … "Sorry!"

In customer service, saying sorry is important.

We don't always get things right, and when we don’t, we have to say "sorry" to our customer. However, in customer service, it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it.

We are often so “matter of fact” about saying sorry that we’ve devalued it as a customer service currency.

If we say sorry to a customer in the same way that we might say sorry to a fellow passenger on the London Underground, perhaps a quick "sorry about that" or a plain "sorry" it’s unlikely to be taken by the customer as genuine.

The inevitable shrug is a big giveaway.

When we say sorry to someone, and we don't really mean it, or it’s just a word that we feel we should use, we shrug when we say it. A shrug is a great way of indicating “I don’t care.”

Shrug-fee “Sorrys” sound genuine and indicate that you do care.

Here is a simple 3-step approach to achieve a genuine shrug-free “sorry.”

  1. Slow down
  2. Speak calmly and with care
  3. Prefix sorry with so, very, really, truly or extremely.

Try this test:

Look in the mirror and watch yourself saying quickly "sorry about that". The chances are that you will give a little shrug as you say it, and your face may also suggest that you don’t care.

Now slow down, and say "I'm very sorry about that” making sure that you speak calmly and caringly. Notice any difference? If you are genuinely sorry it is impossible for you to shrug. Now imagine if you were a customer looking at and listening to you.

By the way, if you never say sorry but instead say apologise, you are not immune from the shrug!

A quick “apologies” or “I apologise for that” are both likely to deliver that same ingenuine shrug. So, the same rules apply, except your prefix is likely to be “sincerely” as in; "I sincerely apologise for that”.

World champs at saying sorry we might be...

…but to be a genuinely sorry world champ may require you to practise. It’ll be worth it! Moreover, your customers will appreciate it.

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