Most people have made the mistake of hitting “reply all” on a private email or sending an insensitive message to the wrong person. After the panic sets in, you need to own the mistake. Approach the offended colleague quickly and apologize: “I’m sorry I did it and even more sorry that I hurt/showed disrespect for you.” Seek forgiveness: “I wrote without thinking, and if I could take it back I would. I can only ask you to forgive me.” Avoid insincere language like: “mistakes were made” or “I’m sorry if you were offended.” Apologize in person or by phone – you don’t want to risk getting it wrong again via email. And as awful as it feels having to make an apology, recognize that you may have done real damage. You might need to take additional steps to show that you actually care about the issue and are taking it seriously.
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