Friday, April 16, 2010

About Apologies...

There's been quite the brouhaha in my tiny town lately about what constitutes an apology, so I thought I'd share some insights I gleaned while reading Randy Pausch's book, The Last Lecture. (Video of lecture below.)

In the chapter "A Bad Apology is Worse Than No Apology” Pausch writes a “bad apology is worse than no apology” and that when we hurt each other – intentionally or unintentionally, it is like an infection in our relationship. So, no apology would be like letting the infection continue and the Real Apology would be like the antibiotic. The reason a bad apology is worse is because “it is like rubbing salt in the wound.” Examples:
  • ‘I’m sorry you feel hurt by what I have done.’ This type, he states, indicates that you are not really wanting to put medicine on the wound)
  • ‘I apologize for what I did, but you also need to apologize to me for what you’ve done.’ ( You really wanting an apology and not asking for one).
A proper apology, Pausch writes, has three steps:
    1. What I did was wrong.
    2. I feel badly that I hurt you.
    3. How do I make you feel better? ( pg. 162, The last Lecture, by Randy Randy Pausch, 2008)

Pausch made me think of the halfhearted attempts I have made, where I have not been as sincere as I should have been with my apologies. Even more disconcerting is the thought that I may have offended someone without knowing it, for I know at times I can be brusque.

To be responsible and accountable for one's words and actions, to apologize well and to remember to do it when warranted is vital to maintaining strong, sincere, and healthy relationships.

Thank you, Randy, for this valuable life lesson.

Have a joyful day everyone. - Rita
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Randy Pausch was a professor of computer science and human-computer interaction and design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In September 2006, Pausch learned that he had terminal pancreatic cancer. He gave an upbeat lecture entitled "The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" on September 18, 2007 at Carnegie Mellon, which became a popular YouTube video and led to other media appearances. He then co-authored a book called The Last Lecture on the same theme, which became a New York Times bestseller. Pausch died of complications from pancreatic cancer on July 25, 2008.

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