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Ontario Election 2022

When is an apology not an apology?

51404667741_c029a13c79_e TL;DR - When it's all about you.

  • When you say your behaviour is inexcusable, then offer up excuses, refusing to accept responsibility.
  • When you apologize, then expect the other person to do their part and pardon/forgive you.
  • When your motivation, and any regrets you feel, are only based on others now seeing you as a bad person. BTW - you'll know this if you immediately feel better, no more regrets or shame.

What might be a good apology?

  • Start with "I'm sorry." Not just regrets.
  • Add in, carefully, details such as 'sorry I hurt you, sorry I crashed your car, sorry I ignored you."
  • Acknowledge the consequences of what you did.
  • Offer a plan on how you will fix this wrong and how you will try to avoid it again.
  • Be clear that any forgiveness/pardon/trust is entirely up to them.
  • Push back, gently, if they try to say it was nothing. If you hurt them, then it was something.

I was thinking about this after the recent 'apologies' by Will Smith and the Pope. Smith said his behaviour at the Oscar's was inexcusable, and then offered up excuses. I think the Pope's motivation was political pressure, if he refused he would appear insensitive. And he just passed the ball back to his victims, asking them to not only their forgiveness but their prayers. 

Our Prime Minister apologies often, and usually well. Less bone-head moves to apologize for would help, but that's another topic. Do you have any examples of what you think was a good apology? From a political leader, from a friend?  


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Chris Smith

What is the proper purpose of an apology? It must be to reduce the suffering of the beings you have wronged. Doesn't that imply that sometimes an apology should be a lie, because the truth will cause them more suffering?

Will Smith did not apologize to Chris Rock, because he doesn't believe he wronged Chris Rock (in fact he believes the opposite). His apology to the rest of us for shocking our expectations (a very minor discomfort) was a necessary lie, so the Hollywood world could continue to turn on its axis.


The purpose of an apology is to show the other person that you are sorry that your actions/words hurt them. Your hope is that the apology reduces their hurt, but it may not. I can't see where lying would help - you mean just lie that you are sorry when you are not?

Will Rock

What is the purpose of showing the other person you are sorry? If it is for the benefit of the transgressor (eg to ease their own conscience), who are you to tell them the best way to do that? If it for the benefit of the other party (as I believe), then a proper "showing" may require a calculated display for the benefit of the other party.

For example, if a starving wolf ate your child, it could apologize deeply and profoundly and honestly for your loss, even though it knows it must do the same thing again in the future if necessary. To ease your pain, it would not mention that second part.

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