What is an Apology? A Lance Armstrong Teachable Moment [Part 2 of 2]

Welcome to the age of the Faux Media Apology. Here are some tips and reminders in the event that you need to refresh your understanding of the Anatomy of an Apology. Take note fallen “heroes,” “icons,” and “idols.” As you seek redemption via a carefully-worded, sound-bite-worthy corporate script, master-minded with  focus-group-like precision, and thus guaranteed to win back the favour of your constituents…We, your former trusty supporters and allies, duped, disappointed, yet desperately hopeful, await your strategically-timed remorse-missive delivered through the lens of PR-savvy handlers…

But wait. Perhaps you prefer the lucrative, prime-time, blue chip, advertising-sponsored-put your dollars next to the Oprah Effect! television studio environment replete with Lighting That Erases All Crimes And Misdemeanors as you hold Confession Court with an attractive media high priestess to whom all sins shall be confessed [Amen!]. On a pre-recorded tape [Hallylooyer!].

Wait, you thought this was LIVE?! Let me not judge.

Lance, here are 25 apology pointers for you to consider. Parents, please feel free to add or correct any or all of the following:

The Anatomy of an Apology

  1. An apology is about you, and your feelings.
  2. An apology is an act of one’s own volition.
  3. Never force a child to apologize. Don’t “demand” that a child apologize or “make” him or her apologize.
  4. A “true” apology is one that originates in one’s own heart or in one’s own head. [A seed can also be planted, but the onus is on the individual to take the necessary steps toward apology].
  5. Teach your child to trust that his or her heart will let her know when the appropriate time to make amends is.
  6. You can feel and think about how sorry you are, sometimes simultaneously. This is called remorse, not guilt, and it’s your body’s way of telling you that something within you needs remedying.
  7. Feelings of guilt may be the result of your feeling that you are “responsible” for the negative way in which someone treats you. You aren’t. Each of us is responsible for our own behaviour. That said, recognize how you interact with others. Are you unwittingly sending out unclear messages?
  8. Guilt happens when we know better, but choose not to do better.
  9. Guilt is overrated. Wallowing in guilt and shame is not productive. The best way to clear your conscious is to come clean. Do it in whatever manner you see fit, but do it.
  10. Own your apology, not someone’s guilt.
  11. An apology that comes under duress is half-hearted in intent. Make sure you know “why” you’re apologizing before you attempt an apology.
  12. Have no expectations after you’ve apologized.
  13. Our expectations of others often leads to misunderstanding and miscommunication. We cannot guess what someone thinks or how they will react or respond to us or what we’ve said.
  14. A confession can create a platform for an apology, however a confession is NOT an apology. These are two separate things.
  15. You cannot “bank” an apology, ie. “You own me an apology,” or “I owe you an apology.”
  16. An apology never loses its importance: We are free to apologize whenever, wherever.
  17. First and foremost an apology is about the person who caused the offense. [Sorry Oprah]
  18. When you trust your own “moral compass,” or your own inner voice, you’re better equipped to do what’s right. Being attuned to your conscious-mind is your guide.
  19. Loosen your expectations as to what a “proper” apology looks like. No two people are alike, therefore no two apologies will look exactly alike.
  20. The context for saying, “I’m sorry” is different than blurting out “SORRY!” With experience, you’ll learn to differentiate between the two.
  21. Continuously apologizing to the same person for the same offence isn’t productive. That person may *never* forgive you. This is their right.
  22. Apologizing to someone doesn’t mean that the other person’s hurt or pain or shame will automatically subside and go away. In fact, sometimes just the opposite happens. There’s nothing you can do about this.
  23. The offended party gets to decide how he will respond to your apology. You do not get to dictate how someone “should” feel.
  24. You are not responsible for the feelings of others.
  25. Hurt feelings are the domain of the hurt. Apologizing for the hurt you’ve caused is a step towards mutual healing.

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