I will apologize if it happened unless it’s all your fault

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Go ahead, ask.

In 1954, Ethel Payne was a reporter for The Chicago Defender, the biggest black-run newspaper in the nation. The Defender had sent her to Washington. She’d had a White House press credential for 3 months, the 3rd black reporter ever to do so, but hadn’t ventured to ask any questions.

According to biographer James McGrath Morris, her voice was “quavering” when she finally called “Mr President! Mr President!” President Eisenhower, picking her out from the 200 reporters at the press conference, smiled and nodded to her.

She didn’t toss him a softball.

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Please don’t tell me what I’m apologizing for

Image: unknown. Public domain.

Georg Schoenerer has no memory of publishing the news that Kaiser Wilhelm had died. Which hadn’t actually happened. Which Schoenerer will go to jail for. Unclear whether his visitors have any memory of getting dressed in the morning.

If you don’t say exactly what it is you’re sorry for, it can ruin an otherwise good apology. It’s evasive. The person you’re apologizing to may feel like you’re not facing up to it. It seems insincere. So when you apologize, don’t say you’re sorry for “what happened.” Or “the unfortunate incidents.” Or “yesterday.” Or “the way that went down.” Or “the stuff at the party.” Or “the events leading to the whole thermonuclear kerfuffle.”

But what if you can’t be specific because you have no memory whatsofrackingever of what you did? Or any memory of that whole night/day/semester?

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Can’t we get this community gated somehow?

Photo: fabulousfabs. https://www.flickr.com/photos/fabulousfabs/14878319792/ Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Fruit vendor conveniently positioned to carjack family vehicle.

Mark Woodward, a guy apparently unclued about social media and civic decency, posted some nasty stuff on Facebook for no real reason. Surprising he’s so differently-clued about social media, since he’s CEO of a software company, but maybe it’s about keeping his neighborhood charming.

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The Curious Incident of the Chocolate Love Monkey

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14 indications that Beyonce is not actually sorry

  1. I don’t give a fuck
  2. Suck on my balls
  3. I ain’t thinking ’bout you
  4. Middle fingers up, put them hands high
  5. Wave it in his face, tell him, boy, bye
  6. Sorry, I ain’t sorry
  7. No no, hell nah

Now you want to say you’re sorry
Now you want to call me crying
Now you gotta see me wilding
Now I’m the one that’s lying
And I don’t feel bad about it
It’s exactly what you get
Stop interrupting my grinding

Lyrics via Genius.

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A newspaper apology illustrated by gratuitous Tom Hiddleston images

We’ve mentioned that attempts at explanation can screw up apologies. Explaining what happened can all too often veer into self-justification and victim-blaming. It’s better to focus on telling the person you’re apologizing to that you understand why what you did was wrong (and STATE WHAT YOU DID rather than calling it “what happened” or skipping right to the “sorry” part), that you understand the impact of your screw-up, that you are truly sorry, and that you are attempting to make things right (through reparations or through putting systems in place to ensure that this never happens again).

Bad apologies make Tom Hiddleston sad

Bad apologies make Tom Hiddleston sad

But here is a good example of an explanation in an apology that doesn’t dilute the apology itself.

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Amber and Johnny are very sorry: A term paper

If a sixth grade non-fiction book report and a proof-of-life hostage video got married and had a baby, it would look like Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s apology video.

Background: In Australia’s “War on Terrier” (HA HA), Johnny Depp’s actress wife Amber Heard admitted she was wrong for bringing her and Depp’s Yorkies, Pistol and Boo, into Australia without the mandatory permit and 10-day quarantine. The reason for the quarantine laws is that Australia is a continent with its own ecosystem, and when you flout rules because you are a famous rich person whose last good movie was arguably What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), you end up putting the entire continent at risk. Things can occur, from the introduction of new diseases and parasites up to and including Jurassic Park. Heard was accused of sneaking Pistol and Boo onto a private jet so they could hang out with their daddy, who was shooting the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film, which is sure to be awesome.

teensy felons

teensy felons

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More on the science of apology

Time to look at a new “how to apologize” study!

Be like this monkey.

Be like this monkey.

The paper, called “An Exploration of the Structure of Effective Apologies,” will be published in the May 2016 issue of Negotiation and Conflict Management Research. (You can read the abstract online.) The academics — lead author Roy Lewicki, professor emeritus of management and human resources at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business; Robert Lount, associate professor of management and human resources at Ohio State; and Beth Polin, assistant professor of management at Eastern Kentucky University — presented fictional apologies to 755 people. They found that the best-received apologies contained all six of the following elements: Continue reading

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I have different ideas about your next life

Guest post from Senior Tennis Correspondent Wendy M. Grossman!

Photo: Gilad Rom. https://www.flickr.com/photos/9464116@N08/8570579692 Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Not Nadal’s fault Moore name-checked him.

At least once a year, some male in tennis voices a disparaging opinion of the women’s tour in general or the female players in specific. Usually, that male is a player or former player, and survives the experience because he’s a current or former star athlete. The sport’s promoters and organizers typically manage to be more restrained.

Not this year.

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Against all odds, another excellent apology, good heavens

Fair readers! We have two good-apology posts in a row!



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