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Apologies, their use and meaning: A course module

Nov 24, 2011

from the paper by Hershey Friedman and Linda Friedman:

The apology is an important marketing and management tool (Friedman, 2006). Knowing how to apologize correctly is a skill that must be mastered and should be studied. The purpose of this paper is to provide needed course material for instructors preparing a course module on this relatively new and very topical subject. Possible relevant courses for this material may be found in disciplines such as: marketing, management, medicine, hospital administration, nursing, business law, and philosophy of law, among others. 

....In essence, a good apology has several characteristics:

  • The individual or organization making the apology must recognize that a wrong was committed.
  • The remorse must be sincere, not simply “regret” at being caught. There is a big difference between remorse and regret. The person or organization should make it clear that they are ashamed of what they did and will never do it again.
  • The remorse must be communication to the offended parties – companies can and should use the media – and an explanation as to why the offense was committed should be made.
  • Reparations and / or restitution should be offered.
  • It has to be clear that this will never occur again and that serious reform has taken place.

The apology, if done correctly, heals all wounds and allows both parties to move ahead and forget about the past.

....A major reason that people do not apologize is that they are afraid the apology will be seen as a sign of weakness and/or guilt. In reality, an apology indicates great strength as it is a munificent act that restores and rehabilitates the self-concept of the offended party. Corporations may be afraid to apologize because they feel that it may be an admission of guilt that can lead to lawsuits. On the contrary, hospitals have found that apologies may reduce the incidence of lawsuits (Cohen, 2000). 

Read the whole article.

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