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I'm sorry, but...

  • I'm an idiot
  • you're an idiot
  • it's your fault you were offended
  • I didn't know about it
  • but I did have a point anyways
  • everyone does it
  • I wasn't paying attention
  • I drank too much
  • I didn't drink enough

It seems most apologies now include a qualifier, an excuse, and are less sincere for it. The Citizen had an article a few weeks ago on "the sorry state of apologies", referring in particular those given after Congressman Joe Wilson heckled President Barack Obama during a speech, Serena Williams threatened to stuff a tennis ball down the throat of a line judge, and Kanye West grabbed a mike from Taylor Smith at MTV award show. All their apologies were judged to be lame, and in some cases, a little late.

An apology should convey that you understand that you did something wrong, understand why it was wrong, feel badly about your actions and acknowledge that you will correct them.

This site lists in more detail (amidst a barrage of ads) that a proper apology should always include the following:

  • a detailed account of the situation
  • acknowledgment of the hurt or damage done
  • taking responsibility for the situation
  • recognition of your role in the event
  • a statement of regret
  • asking for forgiveness
  • a promise that it won't happen again
  • a form of restitution whenever possible
I don't mean we need this whole checklist when it's something like stepping on someone's toes in a crowded elevator, but I think in general the focus should not be on who was right or wrong, what's should be important is that the relationship (or toe) has been damaged, the other person(s) have been hurt, and we show some empathy. 


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