Thom S. Raynor notes that leaders often fail to apologise properly for their failures and mistakes. They thereby sacrifice integrity and lose credibility.
Among the worst examples of nonapologies, Raynor suggests the following:-
- “If I offended anyone . . .” This one is also called the hypothetical apology. There is really no mention of wrongdoing. It tries to put the responsibility of the apology on the offended party or parties.
- “For whatever harm I caused . . .” Look, if you are unwilling to acknowledge your actions or words hurt people, don’t waste your breath on a non-apology like this one. You should state specifically your wrongdoing and acknowledge your awareness of it.
- “But . . .” Anytime you offer this conjunction, you are attempting to justify your actions. If you say, “I apologize, but . . .” you are not apologizing at all. That little conjunction can do a lot of harm. It’s like telling your spouse, “I love you, but . . . “
- Blah, blah, blah, blah. Some apologies have so many added words and sentences that you can miss the apology in the verbiage. Real apologies are not only heartfelt, they are also succinct and to the point.
- Here is what he or she did. Simply stated, you are trying to pass the buck with language that implies guilt elsewhere. Or you may be implying that the harm you caused was really initiated by someone else.
Actually, I think I can top these. Recently, I purchased a motor vehicle and as soon as I collected it I noticed, and reported, that a piece of equipment was missing. The salesperson’s response? “Apologies if this was not something you noticed prior to sale…”! You can rest assured that this received a robust response!