Friday, August 27, 2010

What I Know About Apologies

I'm not a big fan of apologies. I don't know whether I'm less a fan of apologizing or being apologized to. I guess that part of my problem with apologies is that the typical, modern form of an apology isn't what it should be. It seems that "sorry" and words, phrases or invocations similar to it have become less about contrition than they have become merely a bastardization of or codeword for "please stop yelling".

To me, an apology is something sincerely rendered. It is something meant. When one apologizes, it means genuine recognition that one has erred. Even more than that, it is an indication that one will make a genuine attempt to not repeat the error. And, beyond all of that, it is recognition that the error has caused some form of harm that the apologizer wishes to not repeat. In other words, it means that, when one is actually sorry (rather than simply mouthing appropriate words or applying social lubricant) they cease with the offending activity.

Too many times, what I see is someone say that they are sorry, but there's no real proof of that sentiment. Too many times, I see people, after making the appropriate gestures, go back to the offending activity as soon as they feel safe doing so. "Sorry" has simply become a PR tactic (not just at corporate/institutional levels, but even at the personal level).

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