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Proper Way To Apologize

Posted by languageandgrammar on February 18, 2012

We all make mistakes, but apologizing is always difficult. That difficulty (and because many people apologize when they’re not truly sorry for their actions) is why there are so many conditional apologies issued.

That’s something I’ve talked about before here (I’m Sorry If I Offended Anyone) and in my book (Literally, the Best Language Book Ever).

To review, when you put a condition on the apology, you’re attempting to shift the responsibility from you (the person who did the offensive thing) to the person who was hurt by your actions because it’s now up to them to decide whether they were hurt. Don’t apologize that way.

Apologize the way actress Lisa Chan did after appearing in a political ad that was extremely disrespectful to her own culture:

I am deeply sorry for any pain that the character I portrayed brought to my communities. As a recent college grad who has spent time working to improve communities and empower those without a voice, this role is not in any way representative of who I am. It was absolutely a mistake on my part and one that, over time, I hope can be forgiven. I feel horrible about my participation and I am determined to resolve my actions.

She might not be proud of the ad she participated in (for Republican Pete Hoekstra), but she can be very proud of how she took responsibility for her action.

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