Apologies written on a napkin

From my platform address on October, the quick summary.

What’s included in an effective apology:

  1. Acknowledgement that the other experienced hurt or harm.
  2. Acceptance that my action was a trigger for the hurt. (words are a kind of action)
  3. Indication I have had a change of heart.
  4. Indication that I will not do it again and, ideally, even will work to repair the harm. Some kind of restitution, restoration.

And my rules about apologies,

  • Rule 1: include what the action actually was that triggered the hurt or harm
  • Rule 2: actually say YOU did it
    • 2a: don’t apologize for someone else’s actions, as in “I’m sorry you misunderstood” or “I’m sorry other people have hurt you before” — the latter is an expression of sympathy, not an apology)
  • Rule 3: acknowledge that the other is hurting or harmed and what that harm is (no “IF you’re hurt”)
  • Rule 4: don’t include an excuse (especially the excuse that they did something to “cause” you to do what was done)
  • Rule 5: don’t minimize (words like “just” or describing the action in a way that makes it seem more minor than the other may have received it)
  • Rule 6: don’t include an attack on the other (that seems pretty clear)
  • Rule 7: don’t force apologies out of others (if they don’t really regret the action, or the hurt, the apology won’t ring true, and there’s no change of heart)
  • Rule 8: don’t expect an apology to erase the past (repaired hurts still leave scars)

If you’d like to hear the whole platform address, it’s here: The Problem With Apologies (SoundCloud)