Monday, February 27, 2017

The right way to apologize

Too many times, I hear about, or see famous people step up to a microphone and "apologize" for some action that they've done recently.  Usually, it's because they engaged their mouths before their brains and said something incredibly stupid or insensitive.  Almost always, the apology ends with "I apologize if I have offended anyone."

What?  Doe that mean you don't apologize if you didn't offend someone?  That's just BS in my opinion.  A good apology has four steps:

Step 1: Express remorse.  Every apology needs to start with two magic words: "I'm sorry," or "I apologize."

Step 2: Admit responsibility.  Next, admit responsibility for your actions or behavior, and acknowledge what you did.

Step 3: Make amends.

Step 4: Promise that it won't happen again.

PricewaterhouseCoopers did a whopper of a mistake at last night's Oscars award ceremony when the wrong envelope was handed to Warren Beatty and the wrong winner was announced for Best Picture.  This is what PricewaterhouseCoopers did almost immediately after they discovered the mistake.  They issued an apology.

"We sincerely apologize to 'Moonlight,' 'La La Land,' Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture," read PwC's apology.

"The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected.  We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.  We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation," added the statement.

About the only thing this didn't address was the promise that it won't happen again.  But since they've been doing this for 83 years and this is really the first time this has happened due to an error on their part, I'm pretty sure that the "Promise it won't happen again" part is implied.

I wish more people, especially famous people who say stupid or insensitive things, would look at this real apology and actually apologize and mean it the next time they screw up.  Either that, or I'm going to have to stay offended all the time to make the apology real.  But, I really shouldn't have to do that.  If you screw up, apologize for it, admit responsibility, make amends for it and promise not to do it again.  PricewaterhouseCoopers knows how to apologize.  Others should follow their lead.


  1. This is an awesome post, Paul!

    1. Thanks Lisa. Sadly, it looks like PwC is throwing around the blame game a little bit in order to deflect some of the fall out from the gaffe.