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INC Blog [2010.02.23] My (Thoughts on) Apologies

INC Blog [2010.02.23] My (Thoughts on) Apologies

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An INC.com blog post by Greenleaf Book Group CEO Clint Greenleaf.
An INC.com blog post by Greenleaf Book Group CEO Clint Greenleaf.

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Published by: Greenleaf Book Group on Apr 30, 2010
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05/12/2014

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February23,2010
My(Thoughtson)Apologies
byClintGreenleafItseemsthattherehavebeenalotofpublicapologieslately.Mostofthemhavecomefrompublicofficialsorfamouspeoplewhohavemadebigmistakes.Theydoabignewsconferencetosupposedlybaretheirsoulsandapologizetoeveryone.Alltoooften,it'sascripted,unemotionalspeechwithpoorlycoachedtheatrics,anditringshollowanddisingenuous.Mostimportant,it'stoolittle,toolate.TworecentandpoorlyexecutedapologieswerethoseofferedbySouthCarolinaGovernorMarkSanfordandTigerWoods.Afterbothapologies,whichwereleadingnewsitemsfor days,peopletalkedabouthowtheapologieswereweakandthepublicwasstillnotreadytoforgivethewrongdoers.Theyweredishonestearlyinthegame,andtheirlater,weakapologieswerenotsufficient.Letsbeclearaboutsomething:Inneithercasewasthenegativeresponsesimplytothenewsconferenceitself.Thedeceptionorsecrecythatcamebeforetheconfessioncausedallthetrouble.ThiswasalsowhathappenedtoBillClintonwhenhewasimpeachedovertheMonicaLewinskyaffair.Heliedopenlybeforethetruthcameout.Hadhebeenhonest,admittedhismistakeandworkedtonotdoitagain,therewouldhavebeenno"dependsonwhatthemeaningoftheword'is'is"commentandIthinktheuproarwouldhavediedmorequicklyinthepublicarena.
 
Abigapology,executedearlyandcorrectly,leavespeopleknowingsomuchthattheyfeelabitlikeavoyeur—thattheyprobablyknowtoomuchaboutsomeone'spersonallife.If,instead,thereisasenseofdishonestyor"moretothestory,"boththepublicandthemediawillnotletgo.Ifallquestionsareanswered,andthereisanappearanceofjustice(i.e.punishmentthatfitsthecrimeorisgreaterthanthecrime)peopleusuallystopdiggingandstartforgiving.Abigapologyissometimesconsideredabadideabecauseitopensthepersonupfortroubleathomeorfuturelegaltrouble.Guesswhat:Ifacrimehasbeencommitted,thelegalissueisthereeitherway,andifthesubjectofalieisanaffair,thejiltedspousewillbejiltedwhetheranadmissionofguiltisofferedornot.Probablythebestcasestudyforthishappenedjustovertwoyearsago.BothAndyPettitteandRogerClemenswerelistedintheMitchellReportasMajorLeagueBaseballplayers whohadusedperformance‐enhancingdrugs.Thetwoplayersapproachedthecrisisinverydifferentways.RogerClemensmadeafarceofhissituation,evengoingtoCongressanddenyinganyinvolvementwithdrugs.EventheknuckleheadsinCongresswereabletoseethathewaslying.AndyPettitte,ontheotherhand,tookfullownershipoftheclaims,answeredeveryquestionanyonehad,andwaswillingtotakeanypunishmentthatwouldcome.

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