We live in a world of public relations and politics, of rhetoric and limited liability. We live in a world where apologies are rare and “notpologies” stand in there place.
Airlines tell us their “hearts go out” to the families of crash victims, while desperately trying to avoid legal or financial responsibility. Retail stores “regret” crushing deaths that happen during Black Friday sales. Celebrity drunk drivers tell us through their press agents that they’re going through a hard time and ask for forgiveness. What does a real apology look like?
An apology should start with “I’m sorry”. If there is no remorse, there can be no reconciliation. But as any parent of a toddler knows, “I’m sorry” on its own can sometimes mean “Shut up.”
I was wrong.
A true apology includes accepting responsibility. “I’m sorry you were offended” is an example of dodging responsibility. Admitting where you were wrong or at fault is important.
I won’t do that again.
Commitment to change is the last crucial piece of an apology. This may mean outlining for the hurt party exactly what steps you’ll take to make sure you don’t cause the same harm again.
These three things together convey remorse, responsibility, and commitment to change. As long as it is followed up by the promised better behavior, this is an apology worth accepting.