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Being Human

Spend enough time in parking operations and you’re guaranteed to need to respond to a complaint. One way to grow from a good operation to a great one is re-thinking the way you do that. If your typical response is, “We apologize for any inconvenience,” you may be doing a bad job handling the situation, says author and business leader Daniel Pink. In an article from The Telegraph, Pink challenges us to “only speak like a human at work.”

We’ve all received emails that said, “We apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused you.” But is this how you respond when you are truly sorry? Can you imagine telling your spouse, “I apologize for any inconvenience this may have brought on you?” Jason Fried, author of ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever, tells of a day he saw a woman spill coffee on a stranger in a Chicago café. The spiller’s response was, “I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” That, Fried says, is how we react when we’re really sorry.

“When you say, ‘I’m sorry,’ you’re owning,” he explains. “When you say ‘I apologize,’ you’re renting.”

A research study performed by behavioral economist Dan Ariely showed that when customers are treated rudely, they are more likely to act vengefully. For example, they may not tell the parking cashier the truth when they are given too much change. When customers are treated kindly (like human beings), they are more inclined to behave honorably.

Don’t go replying to complaints with, “My bad, dude,” but try letting your customers know you own the problem by speaking more like a human–by saying, “I’m sorry.” Parking automation and robotics are quickly taking over many facets of the parking industry. Do we really need them taking over our speech?

(If you feel like reading this blog post was a waste of your valuable time, I apologize for the inconvenience this might have caused you.)



About Isaiah Mouw, CAPP

Isaiah Mouw, CAPP, LEED Green Associate, is a vice president for Municipal Citation Solutions, at Republic Parking Systems. He serves on the IPI Advisory Council, Sustainability Committee, and Parking Matters® Committee.


  1. Casey Jones says:

    Great blog Isaiah. This is a terrific reminder that ours is and will always be a people business regardless of howmuch technology we employ.

  2. Our society really needs to learn to say “I am sorry” more. We need to “undo” what the insurance industry has been telling us over the years never to admit a mistake. On my design projects, we made lots of mistakes. Some times when I do admit and say sorry, we do get crucifed for it (deserving perhaps). But the joy of experiecing forgiveness and making everlasting friendship far outweight the alternative. Thanks for sharing!

  3. John Shaheen says:

    Great post Isaiah! But you probably won’t remember the 60′s when “love meant never having to say you’re sorry.” Fortunately, we have discovered that it was never ever true!

  4. Jeff Petry says:


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