Tiger Woods played his hardest match today when he made a public apology to his fans, business partners and supporters. It was humble. It was sincere. And it was personal. The timing was his own, based not upon a public outcry or demand, but based upon his own personal journey towards accepting responsibility for his bad behavior. It worked for me. I’m not sure that it changes his past, but I am sure that a sincere apology has the potential to change future relationships for the better. It doesn’t happen routinely in mediation. When there is a sincere and humble explanation for bad conduct, and a request for forgiveness, coupled with a pledge to change or correct it, it can simply diffuse a conflict in ways that no money can buy. People, even heroes and celebrities, sometimes fail and disappoint. A decent apology can go an enormous distance towards relieving the sting of disappointment that bad behavior creates. It’s a powerful lesson for mediators and those who represent people in conflict.