How Not To Apologize

Need to apologize? It’s really quite easy. Just follow this easy process:

Step 1: Say, “I’m sorry.”

Step 2: See step 1.

It’s really that simple.

Okay, maybe it’s a bit more complicated than that… but not much.

Here’s what you shouldn’t do:

First, don’t follow Kenneth Langone’s recent example. Mr. Langone is a co-founder of Home Depot, and recently found himself immersed in controversy over comments he made about income inequality. Now, I’m not going to critique his initial comments in this post. I don’t care to delve too deeply into that issue on this blog. But his response… well it is lacking, to put it mildly. Here it is, quoted from a Daily News article about the comments:

“My remarks were intended to discourage pitting one group against another group in a society. If my choice of words was inappropriate — and they well may have been that — I extend my profound apologies to anyone and everyone who I may have offended,” Langone said in the statement.

So, is he sorry that he made the comments? Personally, I’m not convinced. It sounds like one of those typical quasi-apologies. You know: “I’m sorry that you were offended by something I said or did.” Weak. With a capital W.

Want another example? Try this situation from the Schenectady City School District that recently made national news. For the record, I live near Schenectady, but my kiddos do not attend school there. (Thank goodness.)

Long story short, a five year old girl accidentally got on the wrong school bus and ended up at the wrong school for a full day. Her mother did not discover this until her daughter did not show up at the bus stop after school.

The school district claims they thought this kindergartner was a new first grade student due to arrive that day.  It is a series of errors so strange that it’s almost comical. Except for the fact that I’m sure the mother was absolutely distraught to find out her daughter was missing. For a more complete rundown, you can read about it on the Daily Gazette or Time Warner Cable News.

Quite frankly, I don’t believe the school district is providing the full story.

Thankfully, the young girl was returned safely to her mother.

But then the school district had the nerve to issue a lengthy statement that comes across with a theme of “blame the li’l kindergartner.”

You can read it here. I call it pathetic.

The last paragraph starts with this sentence:

“We regret that Ms. Rodriguez spent yesterday afternoon worrying about her child,” said [Superintendent] Spring.

Is that an apology? Methinks not. Especially after they effectively blamed a five-year-old and her mother for the entire situation.

By the way, I’m sorry in advance if the administration of the Schenectady City School District views my post to be offensive due to any misperception on their part.

That’s not an apology. It’s sarcasm.

-stepping off soapbox… for now-

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  1. Wade,
    I love this post. Working in education I can attest how despicable it is when administrators try to apologize (sometimes). But I’m sorry if they think that I meant any harm by my statement to them. LOL.
    Best thing to do as always is just to say “I AM SORRY” and leave it at that. Don’t ever add anything to it. If you feel you need to say more, bite your tongue. It’s not on you to handle the other person’s reaction. And if that other person won’t accept or thinks that he or she deserved the apology when maybe he or she really didn’t, don’t worry. You have become the bigger person and you can sleep well at night. Mother Teresa once said “Love is the ability to forgive. CHARITY is the ability to forget.” I love that.

    • Thanks Harv.

      I like that quote from Mother Teresa, too. It’s a great reminder of how we should act in these situations.


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