HR Strange But True!
August 24, 2007

High-earners apologize twice as often as low-earners, according to a survey by Zogby International, which found a near perfect correlation between how much people earn and how often they say they are sorry.

Americans earning over $100,000 a year are almost twice as likely to apologize after an argument with their other half as those earning under $25,000, according to the survey. The link between income and apologizing holds true across the income ranges; the more one apologizes, the more he or she earns.

The Poll

Those polled were asked if they would apologize after an argument with their significant other, in three different situations: when they felt they were to blame; partly to blame; or blameless.

In all three, people's willingness to apologize was an almost perfect predictor of their place on the pay ladder. So, 92% of $100,000+ earners would apologize when they felt they were completely to blame, compared to 89% of $75,000-$100,000 earners, 84% of $50,000-$75,000 folks, 72% of $35,000-$50,000 earners, 76% for $25,000-$35,000 earners, and just 52% of those earning under $25,000.

Even when subjects felt were blameless, 22% of the highest earners would say sorry, compared to just 13% of the lowest ones.

This kind of close correlation between income and behavior found in the survey is rare. "As a Ph.D. in a social science, I can say that no behavioral variable correlates perfectly with income," says Marty Nemko, author of Cool Careers for Dummies .

The Results

The survey also shows that high-earners tend to be both brighter and more secure, concludes Nemko. "They realize when they're wrong and know it won't hurt their career much to apologize."

"This [survey] shows that successful people are willing to learn from their mistakes and keen to mend relationships," concludes consultant Peter Shaw, co-author of the book Business Coaching: Achieving Practical Results Through Effective Engagement .

Terry Shepherd, president of the Pearl Outlet, the company that commissioned the poll, has his own theory. "Maybe higher-earners apologize more because, as someone once said, it's easier to apologize afterwards than to ask permission beforehand--and high-earners ask permission less."

"Whatever the explanation the conclusion seems clear: If you want a pay-raise, learn to say 'sorry.'"

Zogby International conducted online interviews with 7,590 adults for the survey. A sampling of Zogby's online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the United States , was invited to participate.

Source: The Pearl Outlet

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