Thursday, December 13, 2012

How NOT to apologize – an editorial

You’ve probably heard or read about the deceptive telephone call that trespassed the privacy of a hospital patient, whose nurse apparently killed herself for having been deceived by the call.

And you’ve probably seen the video in which the two trespassers (pictured above) apologize for the trespass. Their atrocious apology is a perfect example of how not to apologize.

The male trespasser calls the nurse’s death “the situation.”

Both trespassers insist that the trespass was not a trespass or, if it was a trespass, it was not actually wrong or, if it was wrong, they were just following orders.

The female trespasser gives a conditional apology: “If we played any involvement in her [the nurse’s] death, then we’re very sorry for that.”

The male trespasser says, “...we’re shattered. We’re people, too,” grotesquely implying that he and his accomplice are suffering as much as the dead nurse’s family and friends.

The trespassers did not offer to pay any damages.

This apology is uncouth, narcissistic and infantile.

The Takeaway: How to apologize: Don’t say anything to deny or diminish the injury. Don’t rationalize, make excuses, or try to shift the blame. Don’t make your apology conditional. Don’t imply that you are suffering as much as the persons you injured. Offer to pay damages. If you believe you are not responsible, do not apologize at all.

See disclaimer.

1 comment:

  1. Would offering to pay damages really be appropriate within a widely-broadcast interview? I personally think that should be done privately and directly, if at all.

    More generally, could an upfront offer of damages money be interpreted as deciding what one thinks the wrongdoing had been worth?

    In this specific case, would it be interpreted (correctly or not) as the trespassers stating how much they think the nurse's life was worth?

    If so, any cash value would be seen by many as too little, and thus as an insult.

    Some observers might even interpret it to mean that: the trespassers don't /really/ connect emotionally with what they have caused; that they think the problem can be 'solved' with money; therefore that the trespassers are cold and unemotional people.

    Thoughts welcome.