1. When the apology is sincere
2. When the apology comes before being caught
3. When you’re six
Most apologies we hear from public figures or corporations clearly are not sincere. How often do we hear apologies that go something like, “I’m really, truly sorry that everyone took my remarks out of context, and that the media exploited those words to make me look bad.”
For an example of such an apology, check out Amanda Marcotte’s “apology” for alleged anti-Catholic comments she made on her blog.
Apologies given before the apologizer was caught don’t happen, except in personal relationships. You know, they go something like, “sorry son, but I spent your college money on Elvis commemorative plates. Here are the help-wanted ads.”
Apologies are probably at their most authentic when you’re six. “Six?” you ask. “Why six?” No particular reason, it just sounds cooler than saying “around six,” or “when you’re in elementary school.”
Anyway, when you’re six, you apologize because you really didn’t know any better. How were you to know that by swinging the aluminum bat around the house with your eyes closed that you would hurt someone? You were just having fun!
Apologies are, for the most part, for children, fools, and family members. If you’re none of these, I don’t want to hear an apology. I want an apologia!
Apologia is defined by Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary as:
a defense especially of one’s opinions, position, or actions.
If you’re in any position of authority: a politician, CEO, etc., you’re there because you’ve (hopefully) demonstrated an ability to rationalize and use logic. I don’t mind mistakes, we all make them. It’s when they’re made because of selfish motives or irresponsible behavior, that’s when I become upset.
Give me an apologia!
Tell me why you did it! I’m willing to listen. I know you’re the one in charge. I know sometimes you have to make decisions based on a limited amount of information. Just tell me about your justifications.
Most often though, PR crises exist because someone engaged in activity they can’t justify. If you can’t justify your actions, well then, the apology is probably your last resort. Just don’t give it to me, I’m not interested. Fool.
(I apologize if your lack of a spine caused you to take offense at my last remark).