When an apology loses its value, what’s left? Grudges, hostility, revenge, retaliation, hurt feelings…in the workplace this is detrimental.
All too often, the apology gets tossed around like a get-out-of-jail card. Add a few tears and some carefully selected words, voilà, all is forgiven and forgotten. Or does it depend on who the offender is?
Are we more inclined to accept an apology from someone we like, admire or agree with? Is it human nature to make allowances for, overlook, and forgive people we like, associate with or perceive as the underdog?
Conversely, for the same offense, are we as understanding or quick to forgive when it’s someone we are in disagreement with or dislike, whether we personally know them or not?
Does this mean that we are inconsistent with our principles and standards? Are we flexible with our expectations? Are we quick to overlook or justify offenses to suit our purposes?
The Japanese have a service “When apologizing is too hard to do; hire someone to do it for you”
Here are 5 ways an apology loses its value:
- Get-out-jail card. Apparently, some people subscribe to the philosophy of “I do what I want and apologize later.” At some point, the offender loses all credibility and respect from his fellow coworkers, friends and family. This is the most insincere form of apology but if it works and you superego is fine with it, who am I to comment.
- Before the sh** hits the fan—an apology is merely a gesture to shield or soften the shock of what’s inevitable. An early apology can give the illusion that you have been struggling and thought it was time to come clean. So courageous.
- The sh** hit the fan. The question in the minds of many, are you sorry because you got caught or for the actual offense which you got caught doing? Either way, an apology at this time will be a tough sell.
- Woe-is-me. A well-orchestrated Oscar-worthy performance where you’ve gathered everyone together to state your case and plead for pity and understanding, putting everyone in the awkward position of feigning acceptance and understanding.
- The great social media apology. Okay, you tweeted to thousands and pulled it off—now what? You disappear for a few months, check into rehab to show how proactive you are, write a check or find religion and all is supposed to be forgiven and forgotten? It seems to work depending on how well-liked you are by the masses.
As a whole, I believe that we want to forgive people. We want people to overcome struggles. We want people to rise above an offense and live happily ever after.
What about consequences; should consequences be applied equally, no matter their social status, home address or bank account? Am I being naïve?
Final thoughts: A disingenuous apology is not difficult to spot. While it may seem that it was well-received, you can bet that you’ve lost authority, trust, respect, and esteem. This could be an opportunity in disguise to evaluate your principles, ethics, and goals.
Note: I often use sarcasm and/or humor to make a point, scoff or highlight the topic.
Combating Rudeness and Helping Businesses and Individuals Build a More Respectful Workplace Through Social Skills, Effective Communication, and Modern Business Manners
Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, Social Skills, Communication Skills, Business Etiquette Expert, Media Source, and author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom.” Trained in Sexual Harassment & Business Ethics.
Presentations are available to support HR policies and harassment compliance, address concerns, or to avert potential inclinations – Up and coming managers – Millennials – Interns – New-hire orientation process – Layoffs to help prepare them for interviews – Professional development events or conferences – College/university students – Athletes on pubic behavior – Actors to prepare for roles – Attorneys; polish client’s professional presence for court appearance
For more information, please contact me via email, or by calling 650.871.6200 before a dilemma turns into front page news.
Disclaimer: My advice is general and may not suit your particular situation. Additionally, to keep it brief, my answers are basic. Lastly, there is always more than one way to handle a dilemma. Copyright 2018, Rosalinda Randall. All Rights Reserved