Sep

7

A super star does not a super apology make, but you don't have to be a superstar to make one.

Tom Cruise recently went over to Brooke Shields' home and apologized face to face for putting her down about taking meds for her post-partum depression. She not only accepted his apology, she had him join she and her family for breakfast. You don't have to be a "superstar" to give an apology and you can do something that even they don't do. You can give a "super apology."

Here are the five steps to making one, all done while looking the other person in the eye (to demonstrate sincere remorse which is the cornerstone of the process):

1. Say what you did wrong

2. Acknowledge how it hurt, disappointed, frightened or upset the other person

3. Admit you were wrong to do it and then apologize

4. Say what you are going to do to correct it and make sure it doesn't happen again

5. Ask those people you upset how you can make it up to them and then do it.

Michael Olds comments:

Dr. Goulston's response is well said from his point of view.

In the system of ethics taught by Gotama Saccyamuni [aka The Buddha] the manner of handling the situation where one has perceived that one has made an error in ethics is different than this. Gotama's manner of handling error might be found to be instructive here in your forum where there is clearly an effort being made to see things as they really are. In Gotama's system the process would better be called 'making conscious', and goes as follows:

1. Approach the individual transgressed against stating words similar to these: "Friend, I have committed a blameworthy, unsuitable act that ought to be admitted. I admit it."

2. Say what you did that you perceive needs to be admitted by describing your understanding of how what you did is wrong according to your system of ethics. Here, in Gotama's system, in highly simplified form: A) What was said was said knowing it was an untruth, B) What was done was done with intent to injure either mentally or physically, C) What was done was done with intent to take the un-given possession of another.

3. Ask that your admission be acknowledged as heard by the injured party with the intent that by having admitted it, brought it to consciousness face-to-face with the injured party where it cannot be easily forgotten, and where it will be easily remembered, future restraint will have been facilitated.

It will be seen that in this system there is no assumption that one understands what was experienced by the other person as a consequence of one's actions or to correct the situation.

This is because in this system there is the understanding that however much one may practice empathy there is known to be variation in beings which is largely beyond the scope of understanding of the ordinary person and which results in individuals being altered by events in various ways. We do not assume to know all.

With regard to correcting the situation it is understood that what is done is done and cannot be corrected. On the other hand there is no problem with expressing empathy ["I can imagine how I would feel…"] and doing a good turn for someone one has injured [compensating a person for losses incurred as a consequence of trusting in one's word, returning something stolen…perhaps manyfold, paying for medical care, and so forth].

In the case where one is unable to find and face the injured person this making conscious can be done face-to-face with some highly respected individual.

There is no expectation of 'forgiveness'; that is a thing that the injured party does for their own good. Should the injured person refuse to acknowledge having heard one's admission, that is considered their problem.


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  1. Mike Olds on November 10, 2017 8:52 pm

    Hello after a long time. I was reminded of this thread by the following which is, at least to my mind (it is possible it was the product of a publicity agent and it has not satisfied everyone) a very good example of how an apology should be made.

    It is from a comedian named Louis CK and is concerned with (what else?) sexual harassment. I found it on Zero Hedge (I know, don’t say it) and it has no source mentioned. It reads:

    “I want to address the stories told to the New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not. These stories are true.

    At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.

    I have been remorseful of my actions. And I’ve tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I’m aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position.

    I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in my and their community, which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried because people who look up to me didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t think that I was doing any of that because my position allowed me not to think about it.

    There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with.

    I wish I had reacted to their admiration of me by being a good example to them as a man and given them some guidance as a comedian, including because I admired their work.

    The hardest regret to live with is what you’ve done to hurt someone else. And I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them. I’d be remiss to exclude the hurt that I’ve brought on people who I work with and have worked with who’s professional and personal lives have been impacted by all of this, including projects currently in production: the cast and crew of Better Things, Baskets, The Cops, One Mississippi, and I Love You Daddy. I deeply regret that this has brought negative attention to my manager Dave Becky who only tried to mediate a situation that I caused. I’ve brought anguish and hardship to the people at FX who have given me so much The Orchard who took a chance on my movie. and every other entity that has bet on me through the years.

    I’ve brought pain to my family, my friends, my children and their mother.

    I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.

    Thank you for reading.”

    This is the way one grows by admitting one’s errors and understanding them in order to move ahead.

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