The Best Way to Apologize for Being Late

The key to a good “sorry I’m late” apology is not how you say it, but what you are actually apologizing for.

Being late is part of life and it’s always polite to apologize when it happens. But what could be a good excuse? During the Maximum Performance Summit , psychologist Ron Friedman asked Peter Bregman, author of Four Seconds: All the Time You Take to Give Up Counterproductive Habits and Get the Results You Want . Bregman explained that most people apologize for doing the wrong thing when they are late for something:

Most people will apologize and offer an excuse. “I am very sorry that I was late, the meeting was interrupted.” “… I am very sorry that I was late, I was not going to be late.” But the person who has been waiting for you twenty minutes does not test your intention. They feel the impact of the outcome.

Rather than offering a reason or excuse for why you’re late, Bregman suggests that you focus your apology on the impact you’ve had or the problems you’ve caused. Say something like “Sorry to keep you waiting,” or “I’m sorry I took more of your time,” or even “Thanks for your flexibility.” Show everyone that you are sorry for their precious time, and your apology will sound much more genuine.

Maximum Productivity Summit via Business Insider


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