Is saying “I’m sorry” over utilized?

Have we become desensitized to knowing when a real apology is necessary?

For many, to simply utter the words “I’m sorry” practically takes an act of God. For others, it flows as easily as a fast food order at the drive-thru window. But the question is this; is I’m sorry becoming over utilized in our society?

We seem to be becoming more and more detached from what the words truly mean. Why? Because we find ourselves apologizing for things that are not really worthy of apology. A client recently received one such apology. They felt that the end result of our marketing efforts on their behalf were less than expectation. Rather than allow a valued client to be disappointed, I offered a mea culpa to them. But that still didn’t seem to be enough. Long story short, the client relationship may be irreparably damaged. But did the situation warrant an apology from the get go?

In business, we always have expectations as to how the projects we are involved in will turn out. In marketing and P.R., we have an added expectation. But in the end, even when we have done our level best on behalf of a client, the end results aren’t always what was anticipated at the beginning. Economic indications, marketing trends, strength of the product are all things that have to be looked at before any project is started. Even with the best of intentions, and the most effort on behalf of the P.R./Marketing professional, the results aren’t a guarantee.

But does an apology make anything better?

The recent gaffe by Oscar® winning actor Robert DeNiro with regard to the wives of the Republican Presidential contenders and their potential as First Lady was meant in jest. A poor choice of words? Certainly, as the actor readily admitted himself. But immediately, statements were released by the candidates themselves lambasting DeNiro and his apology. But when did we begin taking things so seriously in this country?

In politics, in business, in our everyday life we are going to find something offensive; almost every day of the week. Are we so thin-skinned that we don’t recognize when something was meant in fun, and when it was meant in some other way?  And with that said, when situations arise where a real, sincere, bona-fide apology are in order, are we so desensitized that we wouldn’t even recognize it?

The New York Times ran an exceptional piece by Bill Maher. Read it, and then let us know what you think about those two little words. Are we worthy of one every time, or should we learn to roll with the punches a bit more?

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