All apologies

  • Thread starter lisab
  • Start date
  • #1
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,887
616

Main Question or Discussion Point

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:

A proper apology should always include the following:

  • a detailed account of the situation
  • acknowledgement of the hurt or damage done
  • taking responsibility for the situation
  • recognition of your role in the event
  • a statement of regret
  • asking for forgiveness
  • a promise that it won't happen again
  • a form of restitution whenever possible
http://www.perfectapology.com/index.html

Does anyone else notice this lack of apology etiquette?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
230
0
Ah, got me with the title. (It's the same as a Nirvana song...)
 
  • #3
lisab
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
1,887
616
Ah, got me with the title. (It's the same as a Nirvana song...)
I know; I'm from Seattle :cool: !
 
  • #4
230
0
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...
 
  • #5
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,490
51
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?
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?
 
  • #6
692
0
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.
 
  • #7
67
165
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.
 
  • #8
George Jones
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,261
790
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.
 
  • #9
Danger
Gold Member
9,608
244
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.'
 
  • #10
918
16
I like the conditional apologies. If anyone was offended ...
And the apology that blames the offended. .. it was not my intention.
 
  • #11
320
1
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 https://www.amazon.com/dp/0195189116/?tag=pfamazon01-20 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.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #12
Danger
Gold Member
9,608
244
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.
 
  • #13
320
1
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.
 
  • #14
Mk
1,984
3
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.

http://img165.imageshack.us/img165/2663/picture1fj5.png [Broken]
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #15
DaveC426913
Gold Member
18,596
2,053
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.
 
  • #16
794
1
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.
The way Bush apologizes about hiring an incompetent person is to give that person a better paying job.
 
  • #17
Redbelly98
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Insights Author
12,098
129
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.
 
  • #18
Gokul43201
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,051
17
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)?

"I come before you here seeking your forgiveness," Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond was quoted as saying at the ceremony. "In the most humble manner I look in your eyes today and I say please forgive me and my soldiers."

"The actions of one soldier were nothing more than criminal behavior," he added. "I've come to this land to protect you, to support you — not to harm you — and the behavior of this soldier was nothing short of wrong and unacceptable."
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gkx-3oYeFwuWKCusr2jrojs98w8wD90OKS3O0 [Broken]
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #19
turbo
Gold Member
3,077
45
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.
 
  • #20
Gokul43201
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
7,051
17
Two political apologies, for comparison:
apolgizer#1 said:
I made an off hand remark that was in no way intended to offend or disparage xxxxxxx xxxxx. I apologize that my comments were offensive, that was never my intention."
apologizer#2 said:
I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and in particular the xxxxxxx xxxxxx was in any way offensive, I certainly had no intention of that whatsoever.
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.
 

Related Threads for: All apologies

  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
2K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
28
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
3K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
25
Views
4K
Replies
115
Views
7K
Replies
56
Views
9K
Top