A Few Words on Apologies

Last fall, on a walking tour of downtown Toronto with my son, a particularly attractive building caught my attention. I was so busy admiring its architecture that I didn’t see the bench in my path. Boom! I took a tumble worthy of a Hollywood stuntwoman.

It was a spectacular fall – no worries, no injuries – and my son, despite his efforts to help me regain my composure could not contain his laughter. Although he said he was sorry, I suspect that had there been a video camera within arm’s reach, my performance could have ended up on America’s Funniest Home Videos.

The entire incident was no big deal; I’m simply using it to illustrate my point that saying “sorry” often falls into the category of empty words.

Elton John definitely got it right when he wrote the lyrics for Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word, but more importantly than saying sorry, is the sense of conveying a genuine apology.

Sometimes, a full apology requires a real effort. A written note is always more effective than a telephone call or an email, and a small gift or gesture goes a long way.

Remember Mel Gibson’s arrest for drunken driving? He was also charged with making anti-Semitic remarks and sexist comments to the arresting police. He didn’t contest the charges, apologized to the officers, and sent flowers to the policewoman he’d offended. On the deeds not words front, he checked himself into a rehab programme and asked to meet with prominent members of the Jewish community to "discern the appropriate path for healing."

When you’re truly sorry for something, apologize profusely and sincerely. It’s not sufficient to make a simple apology. Grace, style and promptness are imperative. The offended person needs to feel able and ready to acknowledge your sincerity with a statement of forgiveness.

Very recently, Chris Brown publicly apologized to Rihanna and his fans. He seems genuine but what took him so long?

Chris Brown Issues a Public Apology

And then there are David Letterman’s apologies to Governor Sarah Palin and her daughters. Initially, he claimed he’d confused the girls. Confusion or no confusion, the content of his jokes was offensive.


His first apology
His second apology

Please let me know your thoughts – how do you rate these three celebrities on handling their respective apologies?

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Author's Bio: 

Diane Craig, President of Corporate Class Inc., is a leading image and etiquette consultant. For over 20 years she has provided corporate consultations, helping hundreds of men and women realize their professional and personal goals. She is a sought after speaker at national business meetings, regularly gives comprehensive workshops to corporate groups, and offers private consultations on business etiquette, dress and dining.