Most residents of southeast England learn to live with rain disrupting their outdoor activities. But when the heavens opened on Sunday, bringing torrential downpours, a BBC weatherman took to the air to do something a weatherman may never have done before: apologize for it.
"There are thunderstorms there which were not represented in our forecasts over the past couple days or so," Philip Avery, who has been reporting the weather for the BBC for 14 years, told viewers. "I have to say we can't even blame the computers, the computers actually wanted to put those thunderstorms in there, but forecasters thought that it wasn't supported by enough evidence and so we went for the dry, hot option."
It turns out that weather predictions aren't simply churned out by thermometers, barometers, psychrometers and hygrometers and then pumped through an algorithm. There's an element of human judgment, which means an element of human error. And despite the thunderous predictions from the Met Office and the U.K.'s National Weather Service, the BBC forecasters optimistically expected sunshine.
"Having said that," Avery went on, "apologies to anyone who has had their next few hours ruined."
Such a public mea culpa from a weatherman is so unheard of that a quick Google search for other possible incidents brought up only a BBC presenter apologizing for calling a certain area of the the U.K. "nowheresville," the BBC apologizing when that same weatherman made an obscene gesture while on camera, and a Los Angeles weatherman explaining (but not apologizing for) an on-air tantrum.
But most people appreciate a sincere apology from a person who's slipped up on the job. If you've made a mistake at work that's affected your boss or co-workers, it's probably worthwhile to repent for storming on their sunshine. There are certain ways you should or should not do it, however, and here are five examples:
- "I'm sorry you feel that way" or "sorry that made you angry" are non-apology apologies. It's not regretting doing the thing, just that the person "chose" to respond badly. This kind of apology usually provoke the desire to punch the offender in the face.
- So acknowledge why you're sorry, and how it harmed your co-worker or boss. Like, "sorry I didn't finish the report on time, and made you look unprepared in front of the client." Or, "sorry I criticized you in the middle of the office, and made you look like a screw-up in front of every single person in earshot."
- John Kador, the author of "Effective Apology: Mending Fences, Building Bridges, and Restoring Trust," advises would-be apologizers to avoid the words "if" "but" and emphasizing what you "intended." When you've mightily inconvenienced your team, they probably don't care about alternate world scenarios.
- Don't get gushy. If you're apologizing to your child for years of emotional neglect, then you can talk about how you "couldn't sleep at night" and feel like you're "swimming in an ocean of tears." But at work, keep your feelings to a minimum.
- Say you won't do it again. And try not to do it again.
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