WOW Word-Of-the-Week #449: Apology

March 14, 2013 by  

Apologyto say you’re sorry and truly mean it.

Is it hard for you to say “I’m sorry?” How about the people you are closest to? Do you harbor resentment if you don’t receive a deserved apology?

In a LA Times editorial titled, “Can you say ‘I’m sorry’? Brendan Tapley writes, “One of the most powerful gestures an individual  can make toward another, a sincere apology combines two of humanity’s most ennobling attributes: conscience and accountability.”

“A proper apology – one that is timely, that recognizes the harm one has done to another and that doesn’t attempt to excuse or explain it away – can a sorryrepair a relationship that might otherwise be irreparably damaged or destroyed,” says Ari Kohen, a professor of political science at the University of Nebraska, who maintains a blog chronicling the worst apologies. (

Brendan writes, “So why, if apologies can do so much good, do we have such a hard time extending them? An admission of guilt may also be something to avoid in a world strident about self-esteem. Undertaking an apology, after all, requires first feeling bad about oneself.”

Julie Exline, a professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University, has uncovered a curious trend in her research on apology. “Because levels of narcissism are higher than they used to be in our culture,” she says, “there is evidence that apologizing might be harder than it used to be.” She says her work on apology continues to reveal that, “apologies, especially if prompt and perceived as sincere, are strong predictors of forgiveness and reconciliation, and people are more likely to regret not apologizing than to regret apologizing.

This week’s focus is on apology. Who do you need to make an apology to? Who needs to make an apology to you? How would it feel to sincerely say you’re sorry? How would it feel to receive a sincere apology?