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All apologies

  1. May 23, 2008 #1

    lisab

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    I'm watching (on TV) a very well-known person apologize for a remark she made that was very inappropriate. This post isn't about the person or the comment; it's about apologies.

    It seems there is a misunderstanding of how to apologize, these days. I hear variations of, "I regret my comments were offensive to you."

    Is that an apology? No! If you screw up, say, "I screwed up." Explain that there was no malicious intent -- and mean it!! Everyone screws up; no one is expected to be perfect.

    Here's a decent guide I found:

    http://www.perfectapology.com/index.html

    Does anyone else notice this lack of apology etiquette?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 23, 2008 #2
    Ah, got me with the title. (It's the same as a Nirvana song...)
     
  4. May 23, 2008 #3

    lisab

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    I know; I'm from Seattle :cool: !
     
  5. May 23, 2008 #4
    Cool. I was up there in Sept. and lived on San Juan Island for a year, ten years ago. As to the question, I'm in high school, so I see it from nearly everyone, everyday...
     
  6. May 23, 2008 #5

    Moonbear

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    It's not a lack of etiquette, it's a lack of scruples. They aren't really apologizing or accepting blame, they're just trying to appease the less-than-savvy listener who falls for it.

    Actually, "I regret my comments were offensive to you," isn't quite as bad as, "I'm sorry you were offended by my comments." It's a subtle difference, and almost the same meaning, but I think the latter does much more to place blame on the offended (I'm sorry you were offended), than the former, which while only half-hearted, puts a little bit of the blame on the person making the "apology" (I regret my comments). Expressing regret isn't really an apology, but at least it's a bit remorseful, while the latter isn't even remorseful, more of an accusation (not much different from "you're just being too sensitive" really). Or maybe it's just me?
     
  7. May 23, 2008 #6
    My way around apologies is to make sure I mean something before I say it.

    Luckily for me, I'm a pretty brazen individual, so I tend not to watch my words too carefully anyway.
     
  8. May 23, 2008 #7
    If the apology is given by a politician all of the rules change. Come to think of it there aren't any rules. I am truly sorry about that.
     
  9. May 23, 2008 #8

    George Jones

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    It depends on what one takes the word "apology" to mean.


    From Webster

    1 a: a formal justification : defense b: excuse 2a

    2: an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret <a public apology>

    3: a poor substitute : makeshift


    The person apologized in the sense of Webster's first definition, which is also the meaning intended by the title of G. H. Hardy's book A Mathematician's Apology.
     
  10. May 24, 2008 #9

    Danger

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    And, George, you know that as good Canuks we apologize to people who bump into us. If someone walks into me from behind, I'm saying 'Sorry... my hindsight isn't what it used to be.'
     
  11. May 24, 2008 #10
    I like the conditional apologies. If anyone was offended ...
    And the apology that blames the offended. .. it was not my intention.
     
  12. May 24, 2008 #11
    Moonbear, it's not just you. You're absolutely correct in your distinction. The second example blames the victim or person who was offended or whose feelings were hurt. It excuses the apologiser entirely because the blame rests entirely with the person who had the poor judgment to be offended or hurt.

    There is an excellent, fantastic book called On Apology that I think should be required reading for every person on this planet. I haven't ever really fully understood the mechanics of apologies prior to reading this book. It was as if someone opened the shutters for me and let in light. There has been more than one occasion when someone apologised to me and it didn't feel or seem quite right, and I couldn't quite nail down what the problem was. And if I tried to address it with the apologiser, they'd tend to get defensive with me and say something to the effect of, "Well gee, I apologised to you! What more do you want?" I didn't know what it was I wanted/needed, until I read On Apology. It's fantastic.

    One of the biggest problems I've found with people's apologies -- and one that the book identified for me and described what the issue was -- is when people simply say, "I'm sorry". But they don't say why they're sorry or what they're sorry for. They don't convey the information that they understand what the offense was about. They don't tell you that get what the problem was and therefore, having identified it, you can feel assured it won't occur again, because they know what the problem was. A plain "I'm sorry" without identification is hollow. It simply sounds like words to get someone to shut up and quit complaining about being upset. (Which quite often it is. People will say "sorry" without knowing what it is they're supposed to be sorry for)

    Anyway, yes, lisab, I've noticed too. The book I mentioned is excellent. It truly is.
     
  13. May 24, 2008 #12

    Danger

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    That sounds like a great book, Georgina.
    I can say, however, from personal experience as a security guy at a couple of different types of bars, that a simple "I'm sorry" and a forced handshake can keep someone from getting killed. It might be fake, but it's effective.
     
  14. May 24, 2008 #13
    Absolutely, Danger, when in situations such as accidentally bumping into someone in the grocery store, you offer an immediate "I'm sorry" or "pardon me" and it's all over. No dirty looks or anything.

    The example I meant was in more long-term and/or personal relationships. More than once my partner would say or do something that really upset me and they've fired off "sorry" at me. And I was supposed to simply accept that, and yet somehow, it didn't feel right. It wasn't sufficient, and I had no clue why until I read that book. (Which isn't a self-help book; it's a scholarly investigation and long-form essay on the topic.)

    The why was because they didn't let me know that they understood precisely what the problem was. They'd say "sorry" but not, "Sorry, I didn't realise that throwing garbage on the floor upset you so much. I'll keep that in mind." Then, I'd have my feelings acknowledged, the situation defined, and I'd know that they knew precisely what the problem was. Without identifying the problem, you can't begin to fix it.

    And in even bigger situations, as in the area of diplomatic and larger social affairs and whatnot, you can't begin to effect reparations and finding forgiveness without first acknowledging understanding of the problem at hand.

    I'm blathering. Sorry.
     
  15. May 24, 2008 #14

    Mk

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    Lack of apology etiqutte? What?

    They're apologizing to you. What do you expect? If they feel sorry and make it up to you, I don't care what encyclopedia they use to tell you that. Etiquette is just wrapping on the present, it's the gift that matters. If they got you a fake gift, with nice-looking wrapping, won't accept that.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2008
  16. May 24, 2008 #15

    DaveC426913

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    A public apology is very different from a personal apology. A public apology with too many details in it can be used as evidence in an ensuing lawsuit.
     
  17. May 24, 2008 #16
    The way Bush apologizes about hiring an incompetent person is to give that person a better paying job.
     
  18. May 24, 2008 #17

    Redbelly98

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    For a politician, the problem with making an explicit, public apology is that you give your opponent fodder for negative campaigning: "______ screwed up!" And you can't defend yourself against that statement because you are basicly on record as agreeing with it!

    The same thinking applies in any "competitive" situation, for example in the business world or where there is potential for a lawsuit. Apologizing or saying anything that can be interpreted as an admission of guilt can later be used against you, and likely cost you money and/or jail time.

    It's too bad, it would be great if people could apologize in good faith and trust that other people will accept that and move on with life.
     
  19. May 24, 2008 #18

    Gokul43201

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    Speaking of apologies, here's one that seems to fit the definition fairly well, but may still produce mixed responses. What do people think (again, not about the incident, but about the apology)?

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gkx-3oYeFwuWKCusr2jrojs98w8wD90OKS3O0
     
  20. May 24, 2008 #19

    turbo

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    lisab, I saw that "apology" too. She was engaging in some strategic ass-covering. What she said in the initial statement was not only offensive - it was intentional. Clinton is very calculating, and she never says anything in front of the media that has not been planned and considered carefully. Hinting at the possible assassination of your opponent in a primary race is beyond crass, and her backhanded "apology" only made things worse, IMO.
     
  21. May 24, 2008 #20

    Gokul43201

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    Two political apologies, for comparison:
    Only one of these is an actual apology, but to be fair to the people involved, one of the incidents was more directly offensive than the other.
     
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