The #MeToo movement was overdue. It’s about time that men and women who sexually harass, intimidate or otherwise try to make other people’s lives miserable are finally being taken to task.
The list of sexual predators from the doctor who abused Olympic gymnasts to a noted Hollywood producer who preyed on rising starlets is too long to list. Most have issued apologies – sort of. But do the weasel words like “…I’m sorry I caused pain” qualify as an apology?
Are apologies even relevant anymore?
Do Small Slights Rate an Apology?
Most of us won’t rate a headline if we do something that offends or hurts a friend or business colleague. Nothing we do would be as egregious as the bad behavior that is making headlines. But some ordinary slights that used to be offensive no longer seem to be so.
I don’t like to blame everything that goes wrong in the world on social media. It does seem, though, that common courtesy is being diluted with the avalanche of tweets and posts that we read every day. We’ve become part of an “anything goes” culture.
Now It’s deemed OK to “like” posts that shame fat people or make fun of a friend. We lurk in the shadows as we silently agree, even when we do keep our finger from clicking on the link.
Please Say You’re Sorry
The growing lack of civil discourse is not only apparent in the actions our elected leaders, but it’s seeping into our own relationships, too. Keeping appointments is seen as optional and not a firm commitment.
How many times have you heard from a friend or business colleague who will call or text you last-minute to cancel? Worse yet, they just don’t show up. I’d be surprised if you haven’t experienced that or done it yourself.
It’s OK to cancel, you think, because you’re too busy or you received an invitation for something more interesting to do. A friend of mind stopped giving holiday parties because so many people didn’t show up or even call to cancel.
It’s OK to be late to an appointment because you don’t want to waste your precious time leaving early enough to be on time. Heck, let the other person wait.
But it’s not OK. And it isn’t OK not to apologize. “I hope I haven’t kept you waiting too long” isn’t enough. A true apology is, “I apologize for being late. My fault. I should have known the traffic would be heavy.”
How sweet those words will sound to the listener. If you’ve said or done something really hurtful, it would be appropriate to apologize and also send a follow-up note or a gift like a box of chocolates.
Above all, be sincere. When you apologize, mean it.
Are You Respectful of Your Clients?
Even clients are kept waiting or given excuses as to why a project is late. A number of years ago, at an agency where I managed a Big Four account, a member of my team was habitually late. One day we had an appointment to pick up our client on a street corner on the way to a meeting in New Jersey.
No matter how much I cajoled David, he insisted on finishing an email first. Of course, we were late. Why did I have to apologize for his bad behavior? But I did.
Some agencies have a rule that a client call must be returned within 24 hours. Why 24 hours? Is that considerate? Why isn’t the call returned before quitting time?
I’m the first to admit I’m not perfect. But at least I recognize when I owe someone an apology. At least I hope I do.
Am I being grouchy? Maybe I’m just an old-timer who thought the rule of “treat others as you wish to be treated” should still be respected in all aspects of our lives.
But, then again, that’s just me talking.