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Foundation-2-Freedom Panel - Discussion Group

Public·18 Attendees
Ryan Mitchell
Ryan Mitchell

The Apology


Consistent with its February 2021 commitment to catalogue the long history of harms to people of color and to inform an apology and a path forward toward healing and reconciliation, APA commissioned historical research by the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology at the University of Akron (Cummings Center, 2021). In addition, recognizing that many existing historical records and narratives have been centered in Whiteness, APA also concluded that it was imperative to capture oral history and the lived experiences of communities of color, so commissioned a series of listening sessions and surveys, which also inform this resolution, by Jernigan & Associates Consulting.




The Apology


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We know too well that history can repeat itself, that the past informs the present, and that many harms will continue to be perpetuated absent purposeful intervention. In offering an apology for these harms, APA acknowledges that recognition and apology only ring true when accompanied by action; by not only bringing awareness of the past into the present but in acting to ensure reconciliation, repair, and renewal. We stand committed to purposeful intervention, and to ensuring that APA, the field of psychology, and individual psychologists are leaders in both benefiting society and improving lives.


Therefore, be it resolved that APA acknowledges that an apology absent ameliorative action is without impact, and thus commits to the following immediate actions of remedy and repair, in addition to long-term actions specified above. These actions are anchored in creating immediate and real structural change for the organization.


Most of us were taught that offering an apology, any apology, when we make a mistake will take care of most offenses. But offering the right apology, particularly in the corporate world, is not as simple as saying, "I'm sorry."


When the offender is embarrassed and worried about losing face, this kind of sidestepping can take place. But, in fact, offering an apology is not a sign of weakness, nor does it amount to backing down. On the contrary, offering an apology can be a potent reputation enhancer.


Apologies matter for two reasons. First, they mend relationships. When an offense has torn the fabric of a relationship, an apology is a stage in its repair. Second, apologies mend the transgressor's reputation. Following an offense, some people—not just the offended but all who know about the affront—may have concerns and doubts about the transgressor and even question his character. An effective apology can reassure people that the transgression is understood and not likely to be repeated.


Too often companies, as well as individuals, miss the opportunity to reap the good that an apology can provide. In early 2002, NSTAR, a New England public utility, admitted it had improperly moved nearly 24,000 of its electric customers to the "default" service category—a much more expensive service option—without those customers' knowledge. NSTAR apologized "for any inconvenience."


But were NSTAR customers, and the public, really concerned about inconvenience? Of course they weren't. When the story became news, customers and the public saw doublespeak and deceit, and NSTAR's credibility fell. The misdirected apology the company offered only sent the public's opinion lower.


Even if an apology is offered, it may be unrecognizable as such because the embarrassment or anger of the person giving the apology distorts it. This can be a disastrous mistake; credibility, once lost, is very hard to gain back.


So how do you build a good apology? Apologies involve three elements: Acknowledgment of a fault or an offense, regret for it, and responsibility for the offense. You can put them all together, but a sincere, effective apology need not necessarily express all three; whether it should depends on the circumstances.


Dos and don'ts 1. Find words that are clear and accurate—not provocative. A good apology should make the person wronged think, "Yes, she understands." Often what the offended person wants is accountability and vigilance; he wants to know that it won't happen again.


2. Don't apologize for the wrong thing. People and institutions tend to apologize for what they find forgivable, as in the NSTAR example. If there is no clear relationship between what the offender is apologizing for and what the offended experienced as the original wrong, the apology actually exacerbates the problem. At best, the offender will seem blind to the problem; at worst, he will be perceived as intentionally distorting it.


That gives the offended two problems: the original offense and the sense that a similar offense is likely to occur. The offended party thinks, "How can I accept this apology? It makes me appear to be complicit in allowing the problem to happen again."


3. Consider the angle of approach. Decide whether it will be easier for you to apologize position to position or person to person. If you are angry with the person you've got to apologize to, it may be easier to frame the apology in terms of your respective jobs or ranks.


For example, while the senior executive remains angry at the junior vice president, he can't offer a sincere personal apology. But he could apologize to her as a senior administrator to a more junior colleague, from his position to hers. Example: "We both work for a good company, and, as your colleague, I should try harder to see past our individual differences. I'm sorry I spoke harshly."


In other circumstances, a person-to-person apology is easier to offer. For someone who equates an apology with loss of stature, for instance, the person-to-person apology can appear to be a magnanimous act that does not diminish her. Example: "I can't agree with the stance you are taking, but I like you and want us to work well together. I'm sorry I spoke harshly."


4. Don't think in terms of an "expression of regret." Instead, your goal should be actually communicating your regret, that is, getting it across to the other person. Expression is one sided—as though one were getting an apology off one's chest. Communication, however, occurs between people, and an apology needs to work well for the other person to be effective. Take the focus off yourself and keep it on your counterpart and the three elements of an apology—acknowledgment, regret, and responsibility. That protects you from sounding defensive, and your apology will be better received.


5. "I want to apologize" is not an apology. It's no more an apology than "I want to lose weight" is a loss of weight. Do the work. Deliver a clear, direct apology; don't hide behind vagueness, circumlocution, or clichés.


You may not be able to control whether your apology is accepted, but you can control its quality. So make every effort to control what you can. This will increase your chances of feeling good about what you have done with your apology—instead of feeling bad about having to do it.


This premise as a whole is incredibly interesting, but the results that the man responsible for creating the line, Alan Bridge, gets is incredible. Bridge assumed the persona of Mr. Apology as a way to keep his identity a secret as well as for the callers to have someone to connect with. One of the things early on that caught my attention was how well the podcast was able to pace itself. There were never any issues of me losing track of what the podcast was talking about and every episode did a good job of telling its own minor story within the larger overarching narrative of the apology line.


I learned that an apology has four stages, and all of them must be honored. The first is a willingness to self-interrogate, to delve into the origins of your being, what made you a person who became capable of committing rape or harassment, or violence, to investigate what happened in your childhood, in your family, in this toxic, toxic culture.


The third stage of an apology is opening your heart and being, and allowing yourself to feel what your victim felt as you were abusing her, allowing your heart to break, allowing yourself to feel the nightmare that got created inside her, and the betrayal and the horror, and then allowing yourself to see and feel and know the long-term impact of your violation. What happened in her life because of it, who did she become or not become because of your actions?


Think of the apology and reparations due African Americans for 400 years of diabolical slavery, lynchings, rape, separations of family, Jim Crow and mass incarceration. I honestly believe that apologies, deep, sacred apologies are the pathway to healing and inviting in the New World.


So as I was preparing this talk, something miraculous and difficult happened. I realized there was an apology I needed to make, an apology that would force me to confront my deepest sorrow, my guilt and shame, an apology I had been avoiding since I moved out of the city to the woods where I now live with the oaks and the locusts and the weeping willows, Lydia, the snapping turtle, running spring water, foxes, deer, coyotes, bears, cardinals, and my precious dog Pablo. This is my offering to you this morning. It is my apology to the Earth herself.


Gumball and Darwin see Miss Simian and Principal Brown's conflict and plan to get themselves caught and save their relationship. They retrieve the spray paint can from the restroom. When they get caught by Miss Simian, she turns berserk and chases them throughout the hallway. After unintentionally detaining her by slamming a locker door into her face, the boys proceed outside, where Gumball begins spraying paint onto Principal Brown's car, and Darwin unsuccessfully throws rocks at his office's window. They get into an argument about Darwin's poor throwing skills only to be caught by Miss Simian. She realizes she can finally rightfully take them to the principal's office, only to learn of Gumball's intent: to save Miss Simian's job, reputation, and relationship. She quickly excuses the boys to clean up the car herself, and as the boys leave, she whispers an apology to them. As she goes back to cleaning, Principal Brown peeks out of his car and asks her to explain why it has been defaced. 041b061a72


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