by Menaka Raman
It’s felt like the season of public apologies on social media lately. In the past few months, we’ve seen a number of celebrities and high-profile influencers apologise for misdemeanours past and present. The apologies are in the form of Medium articles, Instagram posts and stories or tweet threads.
When apologising for problematic tweet threads from the past, the tendency is to say “I am no longer that person and I have grown”, for more recent wrongdoings apologies tend to fall into either the “I’m sorry if I…” or “I’m sorry, but…” categories.
Given the public nature of these apologies, the reaction to them is often public too — friends and followers rally around the person and say they think it’s a good apology, while there are others who reject the intent, genuineness, and sentiment behind it.
I’m not great at apologising, but I like to think I’m getting better at it. (Don’t we all?) If like me, if you struggle to say you’re sorry without offering a caveat or an explanation, then do listen to ‘You’re Probably Apologizing All Wrong’ on NPR Life Kit.
In this episode, Psychologist Harriet Lerner gives some solid advice on how to — and not to — apologise. Listening to her talk, I realised why many private and public apologies are rarely received well. They have too many stipulations, people either overdo it or the apology stands out for being underwhelming. Possibly worst of all, is when people don’t seem to ‘really’ get the reason why people are upset with them in the first place. But they’re apologising anyway.
I’ve been listening to a lot of NPR Life Kit in these pandemic times, especially when I’m out taking a quick walk to clear my head. The episodes are crisp, sometimes funny, relatable and there’s no hint of crystals. Just what I want in an advice podcast.