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Paris Hilton did it to Lindsay Lohan. Tiger Woods did it. American Idol did it. Couples do it. Sometimes we even do it to ourselves. Politicians do it as well, but they do it badly (just like everything else). Socrates, through Plato, didn't do it.

We make mistakes, and sometimes that hurts others. So we apologize. Sometimes they don't accept. So we apologize again with more gusto. At this point, they might even get angrier. Why are they telling us to get lost? Why are they filing for divorce? Why aren't they answering the phone? Why aren't they accepting our apology? There's clearly something missing.

apologizing does not always mean that you are wrong and the other person is right. it just means that you value your relationship more than your egoHere we are apologizing in attempts to correct a damaged relationship. We've hurt or inconvenienced someone with our actions, and saying "I'm sorry" is intended to express remorse, take some responsibility, and repair the damage. Some researchers think there may be up to five components of an effective apology: "a statement of apology (I'm sorry), remorse (I feel badly), an offer of restitution, self castigation (I was an idiot), and a request for forgiveness." Others go further and claim another component is also important: what really matters to the offended party?

However, a new study, "How Important is an Apology to You? Forecasting Errors in Evaluating the Value of Apologies," suggests that apologies rarely live-up to expectations, and that the apologizer typically overestimates the value of an apology in reconciliation or repairing broken trust. So, although "I'm sorry" might be a good first step, it appears there's something still missing to remedy the situation.

When is an apology not an apology? What makes an effective apology? If someone apologizes to you, how do you know when it's sincere? How do you respond to someone when they give you what you think is a fake or insincere apology? If someone puts a condition on an apology (e.g., "if your feelings were hurt," "if you misunderstood what I said"), do you consider it sincere? When is an apology not good enough? If someone doesn't forgive you, what was missing? What does it mean to forgive? Are apologies by politicians pointless because we should know they won't change?

We all want an apology when someone does us wrong. Are the apologies effective? From the person giving the apology, it may be assumed so. From the perspective of the person receiving, it, maybe not. But showing changed behavior may be more convincing...

So does believing in the possibility of change shape people's ability to forgive-and trust again? It does, dramatically. As the scientists reported in the journal Psychological Science, they easily eroded trust and they also easily restored it-but only in those who believed in moral improvement. Those who believed in a fixed moral character, incapable of change, were much less likely to regain their trust after they were betrayed.

These results have practical implications for anyone trying to make amends and reestablish trust-in recovery, in business, in love-and yes, in politics. Apologies and promises may not be enough in some cases, and indeed it may be more effective to send a convincing message about the human potential for real moral transformation. The best way to send that message, of course, may be to act like a changed person.

Instead of Apologizing, Change. Apologies sometimes don't hit the mark


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Sep 0, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=635

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