Captain Walker’s Seven Pillars of Apology:
- There must be unqualified and unconditional admission of wrongdoing based on objective facts.
- Expressed clarity and specificity about what the wrongdoing was.
- Unqualified acceptance of personal responsibility for the wrongdoing or acceptance of wrongdoing on behalf of an entity which the individual represents.
- The apology must be objectively perceived (i.e. to the majority of observers or the intended recipient) as genuine and sincere, taking into account all verbal and non-verbal cues of the person offering the apology
- Declaration and acknowledgement of the ‘principles’ that were offended.
- Specific acknowledgement of any individuals or entities who are known to be offended, or likely to be offended.
- An indelible commitment not to err in the same way in the future.
The above foundations I suggest are acceptable to most ‘right-thinking’ people. Anything less than the sum total of the above is mere lip-service.
An apology obviously has to be appropriate to the precise wrongdoing. In other words if one apologises on a matter that was not centrally at issue, then the apology is worthless.
Political type apologies such as: “I am sorry if I have caused offence... ” are NOT apologies in The Captain’s book. Why? There is a big fat IF in there. That means there is no true unqualified acceptance of personal wrong doing or responsibility.
This is actually worse or on par: “I regret where I have unwittingly created a perception that….” Why? There is no true personal acceptance of wrongdoing. The ‘unwittingly’ means inadvertently etc – and not directly arising from personal actions. The ‘perception’ is externalising the wrongdoing to the perceptions of others. It doesn’t matter what others perceive. Was it wrong? End of!
Furthermore, where the 6 other pillars are missing – stuff it, it’s not an apology. Tough – this is not a debate.
Example of a true apology:
- I am sorry that I used foul language at your person.
- In the circumstances I lost control and I said words that were wrong and hurtful.
- I take responsibility for my failure to control emotions and my words.
- No one should be treated in that way.
- It is wrong for me to be abusive to you. It was totally unjustifiable.
- I recognise that I hurt your feelings – that was wrong and unconscionable.
- I will ensure that take control of myself in the future and not subject you or anyone else to such behaviour.
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