What is an apology?

An apology can be made by a person, a group, or an organization that hurt someone, and consists of the one who hurt the other admitting his guilt, expressing remorse, and asking the other person to forgive him. Sometimes an apology is made personally, between the injuring party and the injured party, and sometimes it is made public, as part of righting a wrong that was made. Sometimes the apology is made on the initiative of the injuring party, who regrets his actions, and sometimes he does it after the injured party asked him to, and maybe even forced him to do so, by taking him to court, for example. Usually, the person apologizing has an interest in doing so, but nevertheless, an apology serves a wide range of social goals.  An apology can strengthen relationships that have been harmed and prevent recurrent mistakes in the future.

Why apologize?

  An apology can place us in difficult and embarrassing situations and makes us vulnerable and exposed to criticism. But it’s worth taking a risk because after apologizing we feel better.  The apology reduces the anger, sorrow, and remorse and now the ball is in the other person’s court because the only thing he can do now is forgive.  

The stages of the apology:

  An apology includes a number of stages: Recognizing a mistake – that I did something wrong and/or harmed another person Remorse – understanding that I made a mistake Taking responsibility – apologizing and asking for forgiveness  

Apology in the media

  Many journalists feel uncomfortable with this issue. Harming a person’s good name is no minor matter. For a reporter, publishing erroneous stories, whether deliberately or inadvertently, whether the reporter fell victim to an unreliable source or an interested party, and whether he didn’t bother to check all the facts from every possible angle, could often cause public, political, or personal damage. When the mistake is discovered, the newspaper can admit its error and apologize. Usually, notices of this type are published in an out-of-the-way section of the newspaper, among the obituaries or want ads, as if they’re being published just to fulfill the newspaper’s obligation. A newspaper that makes a mistake and corrects it enhances its credibility in the eyes of its readership and in its own eyes.    

Apology by leaders – public apology:

  Leaders who apologize publicly are actually performing a ceremony of “atonement” and an attempt to right a wrong. An apology that is properly worded can help repair a leader’s relationships and his reputation.  But it is also a risk for the leader, his supporters, and the organization that he represents. In this case, the apology can be perceived as weak, late, or instrumental.  

A well known case of a great leader who apologized:

Former US President Bill Clinton, who apologized about Monica Lewinsky.  By apologizing he intended to repair, or at least begin to repair, his relationship with the American public and his relationship with his family.