Ethics: The Art of Forgiveness
In this day and age of over-litigation, people are afraid to say, “ I am sorry” However, the act of taking responsibility and being sympathetic with another should be the norm, not the rare event. After experiencing a bad or sad event people need human compassion. I believe many lawsuits would be avoided if this practice was followed more often. Several states have enacted, “I’m sorry” laws covering areas such as medical malpractice situations, and in other states they apply such laws to al civil actions.
A universal standard apology will not get to the heart of the matter. For example, “Dear John, I am sorry my actions “MAY” have hurt you.” Even if the “may have hurt you” is replaced with , “. . . did hurt you”. Such an “apology” turns the matter back against the recipient, suggesting that the recipient is overly sensitive to the hurtful actions of the apologizer, and is, in effect, not an apology at all. A bad apology may be worst than none. The most effective apology is to simply and directly say, “I am sorry for (my actions that caused the hurt, pain or damages) that resulted in (your injury, hurt, pain or damage).” The next statement should set out what steps have been taken to prevent this type of action from reoccurrence. The closing statement should be a statement that unites the forgiver and the forgiven.
In spite of today’s multi-media options, don’t forward your apology by fax, e-mail or phone text. Therefore, use stationery to handwrite your note, or make a phone call to the person, not his voicemail, or better yet, tell him in person.