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The Three R's of Communication edinburgh

The 3 Rs of communication: when sorry falls short

My wife and I, along with friends, attended the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last week.

Delighted with our planning abilities, we’d left two hours for lunch amid five productions.

The sun even came out as we found a seat looking up at the castle from the Lawnmarket.

Having placed our order for drinks and food, we sat back and relaxed.

regret reason remedy edinburgh communications training castle.

After 20 minutes we enquired about our drinks.

The waitress was sorry, but a lot of orders were placed at the same time.

After 40 minutes we pleaded to be watered and fed.

Again she was very sorry and they were doing their “very best”.

After an hour, our drinks arrived but where was the food?

I asked if she could check to see when it was coming as we were running out of time.

After 70 minutes, another waitress arrived.

She said she was very sorry, there had been a mix up with the kitchen and the order had been lost.

Now, what was it we wanted and she would “ASAP the order”.

The three Rs of communication

regret reason remedy edinburgh communications training waitress.

We always share with clients that the best way to recover a situation that’s gone wrong in business is to say sorry up front.

Both waitresses had certainly done that.

But that’s just a third of the story.

We also recommend that clients tell their audience the reason for things going wrong.

And end by saying what they’ll do to remedy the situation.

Here’s how Thomas Cook and United Airlines could have done just that.

Regret, Reason, Remedy

regret reason remedy edinburgh communications training kitchen.

Offering to “ASAP the order” was a platitude rather than a solution.

It falls along the same lines as “doing our very best”.

So we left without eating any food and refusing to pay for the drinks.

Which we were earlier offered 10% off for our inconvenience.

The solution to this mess is what we call Regret, Reason, Remedy.

“I’m very sorry about the delay” (Regret)

“I’m unsure what’s happened” (Reason)

“So I’ll check with the kitchen to make sure your order is underway” (Remedy)

And if the waitress had done that, the restaurant would have been almost £100 better off.

The right attitude

regret reason remedy edinburgh communications training Andrew McFarlan.

Whether on our media training and communication skills courses – at our Glasgow studios – or our travels around the world, the message is the same.

When a company is announcing redundancies or closing down shops or offices, The Three Rs of communication come to the rescue.

With Regret, Reason and Remedy, any business and any individual can recover an incident that’s gone wrong.

Communicating the three Rs with an attitude that puts it right.


Bill McFarlan is the Executive Chairman of Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.

You can view his full profile here


Photo credit: mayhem via / CC BY-NC-SAMichael Browning on UnsplashBy Festival Fringe Society (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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