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4603Re: [americancomm] Never Apologize, Never Explain

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  • Keith Boepple
    Feb 1, 2011
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      If we look at the concept of apologizing and forgiving from a purely communications standpoint, then yes, we do need to take into account the vocal qualities and the non-verbal communication that is used by the person giving the apology (if one is even tendered). An insincere or dishonest apology can cause more damage than the original offense.
      The same rule applies to the person forgiving - if they choose to do so.  I have heard some people say they forgive a person or organization for something that was done, then go on to complain about it for years.  I am guilty of that myself at times.  
      My wife comes from a family that rarely apologizes for things, even when confronted with the fact they have hurt people.  "I'm sorry" or words to that effect I have never heard from her side of the family. My wife is breaking this trend.  
      As the quote from Abraham Lincoln shows, an apology should not be the basis for an act of forgiveness.  I have been hurt by some people and organizations that did wrong, but were convinced they were right - so no apology will ever come from them.  Do I let the weight of what they did influence my life?  It is a choice.  Here is where knowledge of good communication skills aids me.  
      Because I know how words have power, and actions (as non-verbal communication) can increase/decrease the power of those words, I can choose not to let the communications of others hurt me beyond a given time.  I can counter the hurtful communication with the power of communication that sets me free from the burden of being wronged.  Because I know that the words "I forgive you" remove the baggage of wrongful acts of communication done to me, I can walk free of that baggage and move on. 
      The knowledge I have as a student and teacher of communication gives me insight when someone is communicating in a way that is intentionly hurtful, or because the person is not that skilled in effectively putting verbals and non-verbals together to get their message across in the manner they seek to do so.  Some hurts are purely unintentional.  My communication training allows me to see the difference.
      The Christian Bible states that God forgives mankind even while they yet do wrong.  It is mankind's choice to accept the power of these words or not.  In the same way, and with God's help, I can say "I am hurt, but I lift these hurts to God who can take them off my shoulders, and with God's help I can forgive because God already has".  That heals the wounds I have encountered so I can move on with my life.  It also opens the door for the other person to learn something about what they did and do something about it.  If they fail to do so (IE: An apology), then they are saddled with their actions, not me.
      Keith Boepple
      Keboep Communications
      Ft. Worth, TX  

      On Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 9:50 AM, Jim Parker <drjparker@...> wrote:

      Edmund Wilson wrote a piece called "'Never Apologize, Never Explain': The Art of Evelyn Waugh" in The New Yorker of March 4, 1944. I also recently read a blog entry about the concept of remorse in parole hearing. The entry was by a friend of mine who is a law school professor and a sociologist. The parole hearing was for one of the Manson women, Patricia Krenwinkel. Krenwinkel Denied Parole: Some Questions on Remorse  is the blog entry for those interested.


      This blog entry raised a different question for me and one that I think is an issue in interpersonal communication. I haven't really looked for the research on this idea but I think it would make an interesting topic of discussion here. How do we determine whether or not to accept an apology? The issue of someone's sincerity in the apology is certainly important. However, no one can undo a harm done by making an apology. When should we apologize? When should we accept an apology? How do we determine if someone is remorseful? When should we not accept an apology?


      Or is the title of the article correct "Never Apologize, Never Explain."

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