It’s a good thing to resign when one makes an error – it’s part of political life and we all understand that. And we all like an apology – if it rings true. Right?
Sometimes though, it doesn’t. This morning I watched in awe as one of our representatives was interviewed on our national TV channel. Where was the responsibility? The apology? The humility? The simple acknowledgement?
But every cloud etc! I thought to myself “this is the perfect teaching moment.” I’ve spent hours coaching , teaching, writing about apologies and how to spot fakers, manipulators, dodgers. But here we have in 5 short minutes the only teaching tool we’ll ever need .
My favourite worst things about this video:
1 His first sentence. In my experience, people usually tell you most of what you need to know in the first sentence, maybe two – especially if they’re about to mistreat you. But we need to listen carefully:
“I deeply regret that my trip to Ireland bla bla bla has caused so much upset and anger bla bla”
I could end it here because there it is really – his trip caused the upset, not him. It was neither his choices nor his behaviours, no. It was the trip caused the damage, and yes, I’m sure he regrets that, so I guess it’s half true.
2 He smiled as he said it. Which lands as dismissive. If your friend was suffering deeply would you smile and say “yes, yes, there, there, I can see how serious this is for “you.”
He went on to smile a further 2 times as he used the word seriousness. Cognitive dissonance much?
3 He greatly distanced himself from his disapproval of his own behaviour and reframed the seriousness of it, thereby again, dismissing it:
“I could have adhered better… bla bla”.
What he “could” (to use his phraseology) have said was ” I didn’t adhere to bla bla, and I’m sorry”.
4 He does mention the “hurt” but says that the “hurt it caused etc should be acknowledged”.
I’m inclined to agree Phil. It should be acknowledged, by YOU.
So let me fix that for you:
I want to acknowledge the hurt and pain caused by my behaviour.
See? Easy peasy…
5 He used the word “distraction” to describe what he did 7 times (the irony..) if I counted correctly which I think I did (I count well when enraged).
6 In case we were onto him he said towards the end “I know how to take responsibility”. This is a signal that we are now to think – “Ah OK, that must be what you’re doing so… I’ll ignore my churning gut and rising bile “
7 He goes on to mention, again, that “the distraction” (not “his behaviour”) was not acceptable… Okayyyyyy… and then tells us how fab his work is.
Dare I use the word “distraction”??
8 Finally, and I love this one as it’s used so often by responsibility averse people, he hints that everyone there was supportive and so maybe we’re over-reacting. This is a favourite tactic designed to again dismiss or minimise feelings. He wants to thank everyone over there for being supportive – Possible translation: “not like you ya whiny ungrateful bunch…”
I could fix that too: “I’d like to sincerely thank my colleagues, who, despite my poor behaviour have been supportive and have helped me to learn from my grave error. I want to apologise to them too, for the distress my behaviour has no doubt also caused them. After all, we are all in this together.
My offer – it’s not serious though…or is it??
While I’m here I’d like to offer my services to all future politicians who’ll need to apologise for whatever: I can help you sound and look sincere in 7 easy steps. This video and familiarity with it is the only reading and study material necessary.
Please use the contact form below if you’re interested.