Wednesday, April 14, 2010

School for Scandal: The Apology

Jury and communications consultant Beth Foley on how to make a public apology. An excerpt:

Mr. Spitzer violated two important markers of an effective apology: First, an effective apology is not about the person who gives it, is about the person or people he hurt. By having his wife stand next to him and share in his public shame, he victimized her again. Although he did say "I apologize" to my family and the public, he spent equal time talking about his own political views and how he disappointed himself.

His second shortcoming is that he gave only a vague acknowledgement of what he did wrong. It is impossible to effectively apologize for the damage his actions caused without acknowledging the actions themselves. Perhaps he left out the details because it would emphasize his hypocrisy. After all, as Attorney General of the State of New York he aggressively prosecuted two prostitution rings. He gives no real evidence that he understands his own hypocrisy and how that violates the audience. Not only did this fail to trigger reciprocity and concessions, it angered his audience.

[HT: 13th Floor]

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