Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


How To Apologize

Apologizing: a skill we could all use at some time or another. So when The Globe and Mail‘s Dakshana Bascaramurty wrote a  “how to” on apologies, she interviewed I Was Wrong author Nick Smith.

i-was-wrongFrom the article:


You cheated on your partner


Nick Smith, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of New Hampshire and author of I Was Wrong, says the recent torrent of sex-scandal-related apologies from politicians has skewed our understanding of apology and forgiveness.

“If apologies signify something like moral transformation, that usually takes time,” he says. “You’ve done something wrong and oftentimes you think it’s right and then you’re immediately supposed to do an about-face and go through this grave repentance.”

He says true apologies are intricate moral conversations that go beyond the “I’m sorry” sound byte. It takes time to deliver one, and even more time for your victim to respond – especially for something as big as a confession of infidelity.

While Mr. Kador and Ms. Bloom say e-mail apologies should be avoided because they come off as insincere, Mr. Smith favours the written form because it gives the wronged more time to respond.

When you apologize in person, “it can almost seem rude not to forgive … very quickly,” he says.

When you write out an apology, “it gives the person you offended a chance to look at, read, and analyze what you said.”

And don’t do this: Say, “I’m sorry if you were offended.” It negates your apology.

Head over to The Globe and Mail for more advice on the right apology>>

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