This morning I read this outstanding post on Seth Godin's blog, "Two elements of an apology." If you don't follow his blog, you may want to check it out, it's one of my favorites.
The post reminded me of how bad we've gotten at saying "I'm sorry" when we screw things up. Most apologies today are without meaning, or even worse. All too often they are the "non-apology apology" that used to be the domain of children, but most politicians and others are fluent in it today.
The "non-apology apology" was first brought to my attention by a local talk radio show. It was an eye opening experience when I first heard it defined and I realized how rampant it is. You hear it all the time with phrases like "I'm sorry my actions offended you." In other words, "I'm not actually sorry for what I did, I'm sorry you're upset" or more specifically, "I'm sorry I got caught." Being able to deliver the "non-apology apology" in a convincing way is a requirement for the career politician.
What I like most about Seth's blog post is that the apology is not only meant to make the person or group you are apologizing to feel better, it is to express that you are taking responsibility for your actions or failures that are causing you to apologies in the first place. That's something we all should work on, not only genuinely owning up to our mistakes, but expressing a plan to not repeat our error.
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