So Sorry: Seven Steps To Better Apologies

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Governor Christie is the latest politician to apologize publicly -- did he do it right? Lauren Bloom gives him a C minus. The author of Art of the Apology: How, When, and Why to Give and Accept Apologies offers tips on how to make up when you've screwed up. Plus, play our famous political apologies quiz at the bottom of the page!

Seven Rules for Apologizing Well

  • It's Not About You. Bloom says Christie started out well, but then committed the cardinal sin of making the apology all about him and his problems. Stick to the hurt you've caused, to the hurt the hurt has caused you.
  • Be Sincere. Bloom says "it's the essence of an apology."
  • Don't Lie. If You Did, Apologize Twice. If you've lied, making a sincere apology makes it incredibly difficult. But if it has happened, be sure to apologize both for what you did in the first place and for lying about it.
  • Don't Demand Forgiveness. "Forgiveness is a gift," she says, and not necessary for an apology to be effective. An apology is something you owe, but they don't necessarily owe you anything back.
  • You Have To Care. "Compassion is the essence of an apology. It's reaching out and telling people that you understand." 
  • Wait Before You Apologize. "Take time to think about it, and why you are really sorry.” That will make your apology specific and heartfelt.
  • I'm sorry you feel that way... I'm sorry if... I'm sorry but... Just don't even go there.

Are you famous? If you find yourself in a place where a public apology is necessary, apologize both publicly and privately. The public apology may be broad, but also be sure to go apologize about the more particular thing in private to the people you've hurt. And tell the public that you've made the private apology -- "It's easier for the public to accept an apology if they know a private apology has also been made."

Good luck!