Monday, May 24, 2010

The Art Of The Apology

Hasty comment....

And I suppose, haste goes to the heart of the issue. We are all rushed, all multi-tasking, all shooting our mouths off all over the internet.

It seems to me that civility has gone to the wall. (Or not, if one is a FaceBook user!)

In the last week, I have seen two instances on different --professional-- Yahoo groups of misguided individuals singling out and insulting other individuals. When their jaw-dropping rudeness has been pointed out, the offenders have apologized not to their victims, but to the group with a "Perhaps I was mistaken..." or "My bad..." or "Sorreee. I need a coffee."

In one case at least, I know that the offensive individual did not also apologize privately to his victim.

A soft answer still turns away wrath. Especially if delivered promptly. In my opinion, in addition to an ever ready selection of well crafted "elevator pitches", every author should have a small rolodex of disarming apologies.

If any visitor has an example of a really well-worded apology, please leave it as a comment.

I'm offering two prizes of a Barnes and Noble gift card... one for the 8th sample apology, and one for the exemplary that I like best. Samples do not have to be original, they may be quotes of a famous person's apology if quoted with proper attribution.

(I would have offered a Borders one, but I understand that Borders is currently supporting a pirate site with their advertising dollars.)


Meg Leigh said...

If I had misread something and shot my mouth off (as I have done once or twice) I would first, send a private apology to the person I offended. and second, post a public apology something like this:

I'm really sorry for my outburst. I extend sincere apologies to anyone who was offended by my comments.

Of course: "Oops! Sorry, [name]!" without any qualifier is acceptable, too, I think.

douglajl3 said...

I did a crit for someone once, only to read a post on the group's board to find I had offended her.

Even though she didn't name me, I immediately posted my apology:

"I am very sorry I offended you. If it were me, I would have wanted to know if something in my story was making my reader laugh when I didn't want them to laugh. I'm not saying Zanzibar is a bad name, it's quite exotic. I certainly
didn't mean to suggest you should change his name just because I said so, which is why I said it may just be me. Other critters have mentioned that they like
hearing where their reader's head is, I was just letting you know where mine was."

As an apology goes, it may be a little defensive. I wrote it when I was still feeling embarassed about reading the post on the group's site.

As a rule, I try to apologize in person whenever possible. It sucks and it is one of the hardest things to do, but I think it shows a little extra class.