The MIDAS Touch Apology

Dear Coach,

An executive I’m coaching shared an experience where he greatly offended someone else. He asked for advice on how best to apologize. Do you have any?



Dear Sarah,

Thank you for this important question.

In my former years as a workplace lawyer and later as an executive coach and organization consultant, I’ve seen apologies do wonders in healing relationships –and I’ve seen the opposite.

The key is how you apologize.

When an apology backfires, it’s almost always because of two elements: (1) the apology is not sincere (think of your last call with customer service when you heard at least 20 times, “I’m so sorry” yet your problem never got fixed; and (2) the apology contains a “but” (“I’m so sorry I offended you but you’re the biggest jerk I’ve ever met!”)

To avoid these apology traps, I came up with the “MIDAS Touch” apology. Here’s how it works:

M means acknowledging you made a mistake.

I stands for “injury,” as in, “My mistake caused you harm.”

D stands for “differently,” as in, “I won’t behave this way again.”

A stands for “amends”—your gesture to show your apology is heartfelt.

S means “silence”— stop talking and thus keep your “but” out of your apology.

Identify a mistake you made and expressly acknowledge it to the aggrieved party. Even if you think the aggrieved party made mistakes too, focus only on your mistake, not theirs.

Tie your mistake to an injury. Don’t qualify it by saying “I’m sorry if I offended you.” Of course, you offended them!

Differently is critical. It means you’re sincere.

Amends is a gesture of sincerity and desire to heal the relationship. It could be a potted plant, Starbucks gift card, or anything you think the other party might appreciate.

Silence at this point is essential. Why? Because that’s when your “but” is going to want to show itself. Resist this temptation!

I’ve been coaching and I’ll admit practicing the MIDAS Touch apology for years now. The results have been amazing, not only with workplace relationships but with any relationship.

My only regret is teaching the technique to my wife Marjorie. Although she’s mastered it, she periodically notes when my MIDAS apologies fall short: “Jathan. It’s MIDAS, not MI-AS!”

Jathan Janove is a Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching Master Coach and Practice Leader. You can learn more about him here. If you have a question you’d like him to address, please email us at


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