The Art of the Non-Apology

What is a “non-apology?”

When the offender apologizes for the actions of the offended.

Example? “We are regretful that many took offense to them (our words/actions/writings).”   A real apology would be “We are sorry that we offended people.”

or how about this. . .

“I’m deeply sorry that you took offense to my words.” A real apology would be “I’m deeply sorry for my words that offended you.” or “I’m sorry I said things that offended you.”

or my recently heard favorite . . .

“I’m sorry I called you an idiot. I just wanted you to understand how absurd your view was.”

Other examples:

“I sincerely regret that a portion of my remarks were either misinterpreted or taken, aired out of context.”

“What occurred was unintentional and completely regrettable, and I apologize if you guys were offended.”

And the list could go on.

If you’re wrong, or if you’re right in the wrong way, don’t hesitate to offer a sincere apology. If you’re right about being right, don’t apologize for that. A “nonapology apology” will satisfy no one and make you look insincere. If you’re wrong, try giving a real apology. They’re getting so rare, it’ll be priceless.


7 thoughts on “The Art of the Non-Apology

  1. Rodney Olsen says:

    The boss of someone close to me was reprimanded by someone higher up the corporate ladder for their treatment of staff. They returned to their office and said to those , “It seems that I owe you an apology.”

    That was it. The apology never came but the boss thought that they had done what they should.

  2. KC Bob says:

    Reminds me of the Apology episode of Seinfeld where James Spader’s character apologized to everyone but George. The point was that people can really get bent out of shape if the apology does not come the way that they want it. Sometimes we have to look past the non-apology and see that the person is trying to make amends even we do not like the way that they are doing it.

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