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The Power of Apology. Copyright 2009, Lou Chang. Rush Limbaugh Comments re: Donovan McNabb. “The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well….he got a lot of credit that he didn’t deserve.”

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the power of apology

The Power of Apology

Copyright 2009, Lou Chang

rush limbaugh comments re donovan mcnabb
Rush Limbaugh Comments re: Donovan McNabb
  • “The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well….he got a lot of credit that he didn’t deserve.”
  • “My comments…were directed at the media and were not racially motivated… I offered an opinion. This opinion has caused great discomfort to the crew, which I regret… I love [the show] and do not want to be a distraction…. Therefore, I have decided to resign [from ESPN]. I… wish all the best to those who make it happen.”
  • “If I wasn’t right, there wouldn’t be this cacophony of outrage that has sprung up in the sports writer community.”
arnold schwarzenegger after 6 women report sexual harassment
Arnold Schwarzenegger after 6 women report sexual harassment
  • “Yes, its true that I was on rowdy movie sets and I have done things that were not right, which I thought was playful but now I recognize that I offended people. Those people that I offended, I want to say to them I am deeply sorry about that and I apologize because that’s not what I’m trying to do.”
  • From now on, I will be a “champion for the women.”
robert kekaula after assaulting his boss on tv news 8
Robert Kekaula after assaulting his boss on TV News 8
  • Angered by technical difficulties on air and after being called a fat a__ by his executive producer, Kekaula grabs him by the neck or collar and pins him against a desk
  • “I’m not going to defend myself because I can’t. I shouldn’t have touched him. I’m wrong.”
  • Kekaula calls his boss the evening of the incident and leaves an apology on the answering machine, promising that it would never happen again
  • “I blew it big time. I lost my dream job.”
  • “I’ll never touch anyone again, never.”
types and scope of apologies
Full acknowledgement of blame and responsibility

Partial

Limited/lacking sincerity

Conditional

Cultural/ritual (high context, relational culture) Saving face

Gender differences (rapport speech: I’m sorry to express understanding vs. report speech: here’s the facts, who did it and what needs to be done about it)

Types and scope of apologies
elements of a good apology
Acknowledge responsibility. Expression of remorse, understanding and regret for pain caused, expressed with honesty, compassion, sincerity & humilityElements of a good apology
elements of a good apology7
Acknowledge responsibility. Expression of remorse, understanding and regret for pain caused, expressed with honesty, compassion, sincerity & humility

Suggest, offer to make amends, follow through

Elements of a good apology
elements of a good apology8
Acknowledge responsibility. Expression of remorse, understanding and regret for pain caused, expressed with honesty, compassion, sincerity & humility

Suggest, offer to make amends, follow through

No excuses

Elements of a good apology
elements of a good apology9
Acknowledge responsibility. Expression of remorse, understanding and regret for pain caused, expressed with honesty, compassion, sincerity & humility

Suggest, offer to make amends, follow through

No excuses

OK to explain & affirm intentions not to hurt

Elements of a good apology
elements of a good apology10
Acknowledge responsibility. Expression of remorse, understanding and regret for pain caused, expressed with honesty, compassion, sincerity & humility

Suggest, offer to make amends, follow through

No excuses

OK to explain & affirm intentions not to hurt

Commitment to the relationship

Elements of a good apology
elements of a good apology11
Acknowledge responsibility. Expression of remorse, understanding and regret for pain caused, expressed with honesty, compassion, sincerity & humility

Suggest, offer to make amends, follow through

No excuses

OK to explain & affirm intentions not to hurt

Commitment to the relationship

Assurance of no repetition

Elements of a good apology
who should deliver receive the apology
Who should deliver/receive the apology?
  • Consider expectations of injured parties
  • Individual offense
  • Entity & institutional considerations
  • Apologize publicly to group and privately to person offended
  • Consider cultural expectations
timing considerations
Timing Considerations
  • Can apology be too early?
  • Testing receptivity & potential impact before giving apology
  • Identifying conditions for apology
  • Can it be too late?
  • Be thoughtful/strategic about providing an apology (before, contemporaneous, after settlement agreement)
barriers to an effective apology
Barriers to an effective apology
  • Guilt, Shame & Embarrassment
  • Loss of face
  • Admission of guilt or legal responsibility
  • Acknowledgment of error or went too far
  • Loss of power, one-up
  • Sign of weakness, fear of vulnerability
  • Fear of repetition
benefits of effective apology 1
Benefits of effective apology-1
  • Acknowledgement, restorative, healing of relationships, address feeling of abandonment
  • Opens communication, opportunity for learning. Transform tragedy into something positive
  • Defuse anger and restore trust
  • Prevents repetition or re-occurrence
  • Open way to forgiveness
traditional culture
Traditional Culture
  • Lawyers: “Keep your mouth shut. Make no admissions or statements of responsibility.” “Anything you say can be used against you.”
  • Survey of several thousand physicians in scenarios of serious, clear-cut errors:

42% would inform patient that an error occurred. 37% would provide information about preventing future errors. Newsweek, Oct. 16, 2006

benefits of effective apology 2
Benefits of effective apology-2
  • Simple, cheap, reduces need for money
  • Release of negative acidic effect on body, reduction of stress
  • Emotional support & health benefits
  • Reduce desire for punitive damages
  • Closure & moving on
research findings
In malpractice cases, when doctors and medical facilities apologize,

Rates of litigation drop

If suit, parties accept less

“Disclosure, apology and early financial compensation dramatically reduced the number of malpractice suits…” Newsweek, 10-16-06. Veterans hospitals, Colorado (COPIC) U. Michigan. Johns Hopkins.

Kaiser experimentation, also for hoped for improvement in peer review and quality of care enhancements

Research Findings
slide19
“The past is not erased, but the present is changed.” Carl D. Schneider, Ph. D.
  • “It’s a culture that says, yes, we have a problem, lets shine a light on it and fix it rather than trying to cover it up.” Andy Whittemore, M.D., Chief Med. Officer, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston
delta airlines crash
Delta Airlines crash
  • Delta assigned a claims representative to each injured person/family. Instructed and authorized to do whatever and anything the family needed to get through the difficult times, funerals, babysat, medical care
  • After investigation, the same claim representative to communicate an apology from the company, acknowledge the terrible consequences caused the family. We have tried to be fair with you and hope that we can resolve this and that you will be fair with us.
  • Settled with 80% of claimants. 75% of usual amount.
  • Many of the passengers had been members of one college sorority. Delta established a scholarship and endowment at the sorority in their memory. The families of the sorority sisters killed accepted less, some contributed their recoveries to the scholarship fund.
northwestern football
Northwestern Football
  • Student athlete dies from an asthmatic seizure that occurred during a voluntary coach supervised conduct of an exercise that was banned by the NCAA.
  • Multi million dollar big business. We will back our coaches. University alleged that student used banned substance. Recent college performed medical report of student “missing”.
  • Mother wanted a public apology. Failing that, a jury trial.
  • $16 million settlement forced by Judge. Then highest amount paid for the death of a male < 30 year age
the wrong apology
The wrong apology
  • Ford Explorer rollover case in San Diego
  • In closing argument, Ford’s defense counsel said that Ford was very sorry and that Ford knew that rollovers would occur.
  • Jury awarded the highest punitive damage award in the nation
  • Defense attempted appeal saying that the court reporter had recorded the defense statement incorrectly
robbenolt research
Robbenolt Research
  • Described bicycle accident
  • People who received a full apology were willing to accept a lower settlement amount than people who did not receive apology
  • Where “justification” was a component of the apology, results were not uniform
  • Apology effect also varied where case was clear liability or where contributory negligence involved
motivating apologies
Motivating apologies
  • “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for your enemy to die.” Nelson Mandela
  • Where do you want to be after this is done?
  • Are you the victim or hero in this story?
  • Life is short. Can life be made better with…?
  • Can there be positive benefits if…?
  • Its not a fun way to live. We can reduce the burden…
  • Explore contingent commitments. What if…
sexual harassment case example after settlement signed
I want to say something. I grew up with brothers and sisters who were comfortable roughhousing, grabbing shoulders. whacking butts. I know now that what I did was wrong. I lost my job because of what I did. My company is paying money because of what I did. I am really really sorry. I want you to know I won’t do that again.

I’d like to say something too. I grew up in a different family culture. Everything was proper. I went to an all girls school. This situation has been very traumatic for me. I needed help from my therapeutic counselor. I know you lost your job because of this. I’m sorry that this had to happen…

Sexual harassment case example: after settlement signed
mediator considerations
Mediator Considerations
  • Assess carefully. Apologies are not always appropriate.
  • Do not make premature assumptions and conclusions
  • Consider timing
  • Consider content and quality of apology
  • How apology should be said and by whom and to whom given
  • Consider statutes HI Ev. Rule 408 & 409.5
cognitive function
Cognitive Function
  • Our body operates in positive or negative mode.
  • Need to build “emotional muscle” R. R. Wilmarth, Ph. D
  • Physiological responses are triggered by reliving the event
  • When one responds in negative fashion ( hate, hurt, pride, anger, rejection), one cannot respond positively.
emotional muscle
Emotional muscle
  • What you perceive, you become, becomes real, actualizes.
  • Sets in motion physical-biological responses
building stronger muscles
Building stronger muscles
  • Challenge stresses your muscles
  • It can damage or build muscle
  • Emotional muscle can also be strengthened, built or damaged
  • Muscle memory can be developed for both physical and emotional muscle
if you re losing the game change the rules
If you’re losing the game, Change the rules
  • Change the goals
  • Change the way you think about the circumstance
fear generates
Heart rate

BP

Stress

Constricted throat

anxiety

Fear generates
seek perspective
On a 1-10 scale, how bad is it?

Is cutting off both arms and legs a 10?

What’s a 9, 8 etc.

What is ________________ on a 1-10 scale?

Seek perspective
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