Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Apology Etiquette

Let us review, shall we, one of my favorite soapbox issues: How to Properly Apologize.

Let's say you stepped on my foot.
I exclaim "ouch! that hurt. you stepped on my foot"

you could say

a) I'm sorry if I hurt your foot
b) I'm sorry that your foot got hurt
c) I'm sorry that you think I stepped on your foot
d) I'm sorry that I hurt your foot

Let's review these options.

a) the key word here that screws this up is "if". IF you stepped on my foot? NO. I just told you that you DID step on my foot. My foot is throbbing. The act of you stepping on my foot is factual, not something I imagined.

b) note the passive voice of this one...that your foot got hurt. This removes all responsibility from YOU and puts it out there in the universe somewhere...but not on you. Even though YOUR foot is what stepped on MY foot. passive voice is bad in an apology

c) this one should be obvious. that I THINK you stepped on my foot? no. you did. and it hurt. period.

d) ding ding ding. Plain ol' "I'm sorry" is the best choice. And if you have the balls and fully accept your responsibility for whatever happened, you can add "I'm sorry that I did such and such and hurt you".

"I'm sorry I hurt you" is the grand prize winner.

any questions? good.

Happy new year!!