The Insightful Troll

Rants and ruminations.

How to Apologize Properly


Elizabeth Spiers on recent spat of celebrities on the apology tour - specifically why are they so terrible at apologizing:

That’s the question I have after several weeks of famous people apologizing for bad behavior. They have apologized for not honoring the writers’ strike (Drew Barrymore). They have apologized for speaking up on behalf of a rapist (Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis). They have apologized for belittling musicians who are not white men (Jann Wenner). They have apologized, belatedly and begrudgingly, for groping and vaping in a theater (hello, Representative Lauren Boebert).

For all their supposed regret, not one of these people spoke up until the outcry — from a few million people on the Internet, various television pundits and the people who were harmed or offended — had become deafening. Even my 8-year-old son knows the difference between a desultory eye-rolling “sorry” and genuine remorse. More important, he understands the importance of repairing the damage he caused, regardless of his discomfort or embarrassment.

It’s this last part that makes them all seem so especially shallow.

Katie Heaney wrote about this phenomenon also - but offers an excellent framework for apologizing. Something we can all put into practice.

Dr. Beth Polin, an assistant professor of management at Eastern Kentucky University and co-author of The Art of the Apology, defines an apology as a statement which includes one or more of six components:

  • An expression of regret — this, usually, is the actual “I’m sorry.”
  • An explanation (but, importantly, not a justification).
  • An acknowledgment of responsibility.
  • A declaration of repentance.
  • An offer of repair.
  • A request for forgiveness.