“The one easy way to become worth 50 percent more than you are now is to hone your communication skills. You can have all the brainpower in the world, but you have to be able to transmit it. And the transmission is communication.”
Research backs this up with empirical evidence. A study from the Carnegie Institute of Technology found that 85 percent of a person's success comes from "human engineering"--the ability to effectively communicate, negotiate, and lead, both when speaking and listening. (Technical knowledge comprises the other 15 percent.)
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If your job involves serving people, part of your work is dealing with their frustration. It's all too easy to take it personally, and—let’s face it—sometimes they do get personal. You may also find yourself having to solve a problem you didn’t create, and then offering an apology on top of that.
But stop yourself if you have a tendency to apologize using some form of these six words: “ I’m sorry you feel that way.”
Writing in Inc., columnist Jason Aten notes that saying this isn’t really an apology at all. “First, you can't actually be sorry for the way someone else feels. You can only be sorry for your own behavior and the things within your control. More important, however, is that the sentiment behind those words is something along the lines of: ‘Look, I don't know why you're being irrational about this. This isn't my fault, and I think it's ridiculous that you're upset with me.’”
Telling someone you're "sorry they feel that way" avoids responsibility for your role in the situation. So, what are your options?