A few high-profile individuals have jumped on the regret bandwagon recently.

hastings.jpgNetflix CEO Reed Hastings is apologizing today for raising fees and making customers angry:

“I messed up. I owe you an explanation,” he said in a letter to subscribers.

And, in a statement on the Netflix site he said:

“In hindsight, I slid into arrogance based upon past success. We have done very well for a long time by steadily improving our service, without doing much CEO communication. Inside Netflix I say, “Actions speak louder than words,” and we should just keep improving our service.

I want to acknowledge and thank our many members that stuck with us, and to apologize again to those members, both current and former, who felt we treated them thoughtlessly.”

serena.jpgAnd tennis star Serena Williams is regretful for verbally smacking down an umpire during the U.S. Open:

“My emotions did get the best of me this past weekend when I disagreed with the umpire. It has been a long road to get back to the US Open this year, and I am thankful to have had such a great two weeks in New York.”

Both these individuals probably felt compelled to offer some sort of apology. One was seeing his business hit the skids, the other was getting flak for her umpire attack.

But do such words of justification ever help a career?

“It’s like the boy who cried wolf,” explained Roy Cohen, an executive coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.” “Once or twice are believable, worthy, and necessary for people who have public profiles…but there’s a turning point when an apology seems insincere and familiar. That’s when it becomes a liability and an image ‘damager.’”

And if you’re going to apologize, doing it face to face is usually the best option, according to Barbara Pachter, author of “GREET! EAT! TWEET! 52 Business Etiquette Postings To Avoid Pitfalls & Boost Your Career.”

She pointed to an ill-conceived apology last year by Vince Young, the Tennessee Titans quarterback, who sent his words of regret via text, and ended up getting heat for it.

“Don’t text an apology,” Pachter said. “As Vince Young learned, many people prefer a personal discussion. Apologize in person, when you can. If that is not possible, the telephone is the next best alternative.”

I guess the vehicle Serena Williams used to convey her almost apology wasn’t a smart move either. She did it via Twitter. And as far as I could tell, the umpire, Eva Asderaki, isn’t even on there.

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