Despair, Inc. issues a funny apology

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Despair, Inc. makes posters and tchotchkes that satirize motivational sayings (you know, like “Tradition: Just Because You’ve Always Done It That Way Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Incredibly Stupid.”). And like any other business, they screw up. Unlike other businesses, their apology is self-deprecating and funny. Here’s the email a friend of mine got from Despair … Continued

Felicity Huffman shows how to apologize properly

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The actress Felicity Huffman just pleaded guilty to bribing college authorities to get her daughter into college Oliva Jade into USC. Then she apologized briefly and effectively. A true apology admits guilt and addresses the harm the apologizer caused to specific people. It isn’t “I’m sorry you were hurt,” it is “I’m sorry I hurt … Continued

HubSpot’s excellent apology for its recent outage

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HubSpot products failed for much of last Thursday. (Since today is April Fools’ Day, I want to emphasize — this is over, but it really did happen.) The company’s apology email was sufficiently straightforward, clear, and contrite that two different people sent it me with complimentary notes. So let’s take a look at what HubSpot … Continued

What is Robert Kraft apologizing for?

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New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft just apologized for not doing anything wrong. Why bother? Police in Jupiter, Florida say they have video of Robert Kraft visiting the Orchids of Asia spa and massage parlor, which they say was a front for prostitution. The video almost certainly shows him doing something he’d rather you didn’t … Continued

At Google, a Sundar Pichai apology for sexual harassment stands out

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The New York Times described several instances of sexual harassment by senior executives at Google. Now Google staff are protesting. Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, sent an internal email about the company’s policy, and it stands out for its directness. In the wake of so many harassment allegations in the #MeToo era, it’s clear that there’s … Continued

Does the Brett Kavanaugh op-ed make its case?

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Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh defended himself in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. He says you can trust him to be impartial. Did he undo the damage he did during his hearing last week? Just a reminder: the purpose of this blog is to reveal what’s really going on with written communications. I’m … Continued

New Yorker editor David Remnick justifies his about-face on Steve Bannon

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David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, agreed to interview former Breitbart leader and Trump advisor Steve Bannon on stage at The New Yorker Festival. Then, on second thought, he decided not to. Changing your mind is hard; justifying it is even harder. The challenge here is that Bannon is the self-acknowledged leader of the … Continued

Pope Francis is passively sorry about priests abusing children

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In the wake of the grand jury report on Catholic priests abusing over a thousand children in Pennsylvania, the Pope sent a message to his flock. His passive language is emblematic of how you write to escape responsibility. The words “I’m sorry” and “It was my/our fault” are incompatible with being the infallible leader of … Continued