A Sorry State: Tips for Crafting Effective Apologies

April 2, 2018

Books and songs are written about apologies. We see them on TV and online, and read them in newspapers and magazines. So we should be pretty good at making them. But we’re not.

More has been written about apologies in the last several months than in the last few years, fueled by an overdue societal reckoning of pervasive sexual misconduct.

Last October, film producer Harvey Weinstein — whose decades-long sexual abuse of women caused a chain reaction that is still expanding after The New York Times broke the story — issued a tone-deaf, rambling apology that USA Today called the worst ever.

While he did express remorse (“I so respect all women and regret what happened,” he wrote), Weinstein’s statement suggested a continuing narcissism. “My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons,” he wrote.

Weinstein’s attempt at an apology was awful, but I’ve seen other doozies, including one from Food Network personality Paula Deen in 2013. After admitting to using a racial slur, Deen appeared on the “Today” show and declared, “I is what I is. And I’m not changing.”

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