This is a very short entry from Seth Godin.
"You are right. I screwed up. I'm sorry."
It goes a long way.
Short. Direct. And relevant.
Does it really go a long way? Perhaps not in the way that you would want it to go: screw-ups can get one fired. Or castigated. Or at least, memo'd and get one nasty day at work.
But it does go a long way.
You leave with your integrity intact by acknowledging that you're wrong - and you're responsible for being wrong - and that you're owning up to it.
A lot of people don't do these simple things anymore - and sometimes, I don't either. We gloss it over, we rely on time to bury our mistakes, we BS and swing it... We can claim we can't be faulted for doing so - "there are far more important things to do than dwell on it; besides, there are repercussions way beyond our current horizon... who knows?"
And yet, those very same reasons that we use to avoid these simple lines are the same reasons why we ought to own up to the responsibility: there are far more important things than this - and there are repercussions that are yet to be seen.
Who knows, when we get to doing this, we actually get to rediscover our humanity.