Do people apologize too much?

The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin writes in yesterday’s Dealbook column:

The art of the apology has become a carefully choreographed dance: Say you are sorry, show vulnerability, tell everyone you are “taking responsibility” and then end with, “I hope to put this behind me.”  If you’re questioning the sincerity of this apology movement, there’s good reason. Dov Seidman, a careful observer of societal trends … has been tracking the apology trend for many years. He has become so troubled — and offended — by the ease with which apologies seem to roll off the tongues of our leaders that he called for an “apology cease-fire” in front of several dozen chief executives and politicians at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

In other words, are most apologies fake or insincere cheap talk, i.e. all noise and no signal? Also, how do you distinguish a fake apology from a sincere one? (Hint: a sincere apology is followed by some kind of costly remedial action.)

Official Apology Form (image above) courtesy of Mike Cadogan.

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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