While many in the public eye – and private sector – shirk responsibility when it comes to making a gigantic mistake, kudos to the celebs out there who own up to their actions. I am talking about those who say, “I’m sorry” because they are truly sorry, not because they have PR people writing their so-called heartfelt words (that usually lack in the heart part.)
Reese Witherspoon, America’s clean-cut, blond-haired, responsible- to-a-fault sweetheart had what she referred to as “one too many” when she made the mistake of tussling with police officers after she and her husband were pulled over. She said and did inappropriate things. She threw around her status and her celebrity. She got arrested. And then she did what so few do. She apologized. And it sounded like she meant it.
“I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. The words I used that night definitely do not reflect who I am. I have nothing but respect for the police and I am very sorry for my behavior.”, said the 37 year-old actress. She later donned a City of Atlanta police cap. A nice touch – even on a good hair day.
I have yet to meet a person who has not needed to offer an apology at one time or another. Even Santa Claus himself has had to make amends, and if St. Nick is reading this, my dear friend Rebecca is still waiting, by the way. She never asked for a board game. She asked for a hamster.
So how do you go about making a meaningful apology?
Here is an example:
1. Acknowledge the mistake
“Rebecca, I am sorry for bringing you that board game. I realize now the pain and disappointment that must have caused you. I did not mean to hurt you.”
2. Ask for feedback
“Is there anything I can say or do to rectify this situation?” (Hey, how about a hamster?)
3. Ask for forgiveness
“Please forgive me, Rebecca.”
4. Allow the person to respond and listen to the person’s response, even if it may not be what you want to hear. For example, if Rebecca were to say:
“Forget it, Santa.”, Santa should not be defensive by saying something like:
“But your mother hates rodents! Your brother is allergic! That animal would have been a popsicle after traveling the globe on a blustery night!”
Instead, Santa should be open, honest, and respectful. He could apologize again, and remind Rebecca that he is willing to discuss ways to make the situation better.
5. Move forward with grace and humility
“Again, I am truly sorry. I respect your feelings and I am open to talking about this further when the time is right for you.” Giving Rebecca the space to reach out when she is ready allows her the dignity to make a decision that is best for her. My guess is that at some point, (probably close to December 25th), Rebecca WILL forgive Santa because his apology was honest, direct, and from the heart, among other reasons. In the meantime, Merry Summer.