Money or Good Intentions; Which is More Valuable?

As a subscriber to Business Week magazine, I read in the October 1st issue about the  power of apologies. The Nottingham School of Economics just published a study where they studied thousands of disgruntled customers for a specific business type. Their goal was to get the customers to remove negative comments from the web site. For some they offered cash to remove the post. Others received a sincere apology with a request to remove the post. Forty-five percent of those that received the apology removed their comments while only twenty-one percent of those receiving cash did so.

So, which is more valuable, money or good intentions? I think this study helps answer that question.

There have also been several articles in the last year or so talking about how physicians can reduce the risk of a malpractice lawsuit by apologizing. l This is risky because said apology could be used at trial if in fact the case goes to trial. In an attempt to alleviate that problem many states are considering legislation barring physician apologies from evidence.  In fact there is some evidence that apologies reduce payments made by malpractice insurers.

I can’t count how many times I have done something stupid in either a personal or a business relationship. When I remember the intent of the action (to deliver value, to expedite an order or to answer my spouses question) and apologize with that intent in mind, I have usually been forgiven. In fact, I would say the relationships are stronger. Why, because the other individual now knows how I will behave when there is a misunderstanding or a problem. And, misunderstandings and problems are a part of life.

A sincere apology is one of those seemingly little things that can make a very large difference.  Remember whether you want them to or not, your intentions are showing.

Take good care


  1. I believe a sincere apology (key word being sincere) is amazingly powerful. And it’s not just powerful in customer service. We find that team members respond very positively to a sincere apology from leadership. The problem is that many leaders, and for that matter many individuals in todays society view an apology as a sign of weakness. In fact, the ability to admit a mistake and benefit from the experience is actually not a weakness, but a strength.

    Keep up the good work.


  2. Thanks for your comments.  I sense a change in the way authentic leaders are beginning to view these immeasurable things. Aologies, intent, loyalty etc are gaining ground. We just need to keep beating the drum!

  3. What is the value of an Aplogy? Apparently $57.0 million

    In an article from Hospital Impact we learn that the University of Michigan has reduced Malpractice Costs by $57.0 million be being transparent and open about mistakes AND apologizing where appropriate.This is not a new concept. I wrote about this in a post from October 2009 . What is encouraging to me is that the idea seems to be catching on. In spite of the Scandal and Greed that makes the headlines, business people and leaders are every day making decisions that may seem “soft” like whether or not to apologize for a mistake. And as you can see …

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