Why Apology Doesn’t Always Make Things Better and Yet It Can

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Triggered by seeing a Good Morning America host make fun of 6 year old Prince George, mind you, an heir to the throne of the long standing British Monarchy, I have found myself worried that people will see my comments on social media and disregard it as yet another troll fest.

Here is what happened:  An anchor Lara Spencer reported last week that Prince George has a very busy schedule in Fall taking all kinds of classes, among which is ballet.  She made a remark that he had to give up playdough and laughed about his interest in ballet, adding that she wonders how long this interest of his will last.

Here is why I requested of the ABC station, and chairman of it Rober Iger that she be suspended and taken off air:

  • she normalizes making fun of a child who is just 6 years old
  • she makes fun of boys being interested in ballet which sounds sexist at best
  • she gives herself permission to comment on children of another culture
  • she is disrespectful of the title and position this particular child
  • she goes on to apologize about it by saying everybody should do whatever they want, as if that is her place to do, we don’t ask her for negative feedback but also she is not qualified to give us initial motivation
  • lastly, she goes on air to say she was stupid thinking that will gain her sympathy and continues to tell us what she did this week as a response to what happened, which is really great but it makes no difference in the lives of all of us offended.

I don’t personally care about this anchor in particular and I am not on purpose holding a grudge.  I am merely pointing out why she offended so many of us and shining light on what she would need to repair.

Any apology, to be effective, doesn’t just need to be sincere.  It is also not enough when a person feels bad, on contrary, them putting their emotions in the space makes the person offended deal with other people’s emotions and not their own.

For the apology to work, the following should be true:

  • The apology has to be genuine, done because one can see the things from the other person’s perspective and not just because they don’t like that they mess up
  • The person who offends us, ideally, needs to get the full scope of what they did, because if they don’t get that, then they are not addressing the impact
  • They have to be humbled, they have to be willing to accept that they broke our trust or what the promised, or the safety of how we once used to listen to them
  • They have to give us space to digest what happened, along with their apology and then patiently wait for the dust to settle
  • Lastly, they can take action to repair the relationship they have with us rather than build the case for why they made the mistake, said in other words, the apology is about the victim not the offender and it has to be honored as such

This is just a basic mechanics of the apology.  The other day when I was riding a train, the person across from me was opening a bottle of soda that went all over the train and onto my espadrilles.  While I certainly don’t want to hold a grudge and know this was an accident, I was blown away but how much they insisted they were sorry, not allowing me the process to have my own feelings, one of which was: it really sucks to have my feet wet.

People often apologize in a very ego fashion, they can’t stand that anyone can think less of them so they show their remorse.  As children, we were often rewarded for feeling bad for our mistakes so it’s the conditioning that has been passed on us from past generations.  Regardless, the only thing that really works is not being sincere (this is all about being a good boy/good girl) but being powerful and willing to withstand that our actions have impacted another in a negative way.  When we can allow space for that, we allow space for something to be and in the space when something can be, we can actually feel peace, freedom and ultimately, resolution.

So next time you offend someone, instead of apologizing profusely and repeating your “I’m sorry’s” on a loop, say it once and ask how you can repair the damage caused.  You may or may not be able, or be committed, to doing reparing work, but at least this will allow you to be straight about it and then let the other person heal on their own terms.  At the end, that’s the least you can do for people you offended.

Please share with me how it felt to be on both ends of messing up and how you dealt with it in both situations as well as: did you feel good and powerful in the end?

Grateful for your comments and shares

Marija

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2 thoughts on “Why Apology Doesn’t Always Make Things Better and Yet It Can

  1. When I first read the headlines I was agast that the anchor would laugh at the child, so I went looking for footage. What’s not said is that while the camera was on her, it was actually an entire studio laughing at the story. But I did not think she was rude about the Prince or him as a 6 year old. Even in her story that doesn’t get covered she says who knows he might like ballet. Viewing it personally, I heard the whole story from a different angle – as a parent of young kids there are so many things we expose our kids too. She mentions the hard classes that he is taking as well as the dance class. I heard it more as how soon will he want to give up the dance class as many of our children want to try something and then stop. At least that’s how it goes in my household. That’s why these days I tell my kids if you want to do something, you are committing to one year. You don’t get to start and quit because it’s boring or too hard. Love your idea about apology and then how to make it right.

    1. I hear you. It matters less to me who spoke the words and who laughed. I think this is the problem of the entire program. In this particular case, this station has been medling quite bit in the affairs of the Bririth Royal Family, but all of that is not the point. The point is that nobody wants their children’s choices discussed.. You never know who hears is and what their state of mind is and how personally they take it. Good mornign America is a show of the ABC station that is owned by Disney. This is who makes the children’s programming and sadly, they have the power to change the narrative and if we don’t stand up for every single mishap, I think we allow it. This is why I wrote….I am not personally invested that she personally be punished. I think they all need to experience the consequence of such judgemental, sarcastic and inappropriate conduct. Not everyone is worthy of being into all of our homes 24/7. If they want that role, I truly believe they have to be accountable human beings.

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