Cooks Source continues to draw my interest. That is due to the convergence of three factors: a fascinating story, my having this very small platform from which to opine, and my long-time interest in how wonderful some people are at not apologizing. The Cooks Source story has an overlap of all of those.
Today’s news: their website has a new comment up. It is 9 paragraphs long. My friend John Bredehoft quotes and analyzes the web site comment at length. Check out his comments. (If you need background, my previous posts are here, here and here.)
I particularly like John’s link to a Wikihow article on how to apologize. There are wonderful lessons to learn at that page. I suggest you not only read the article, but bookmark it as well.
I’m making no claims at being good at apologizing. In fact, I probably have often done the very things I am about to criticize. (It is not necessary for anyone I know to offer any examples, please!)
I am amazed at the refined ability some people have of offering what appears to be an apology but giving excuses throughout. The worst apologies are the infamous “I’m sorry you were offended” comments. When I hear one of those comments, I translate it as “I’m sorry you are so stupid as to have misunderstood a perfectly reasonable comment”. Politicians and athletes seem to have perfected this approach. Wikihow’s point number 2 is superb: “Take full responsibility for the offense, without sharing the blame with anyone else, and without presenting mitigating circumstances.”
So, on to the comments at Cooks Source web site. A large volume of the comments are providing excuses and shifting responsibility. The original author, Facebook management, Facebook users, and economic pressures are each partially to blame (see Wikihow rules #2 and #3).
It’s not quite clear what is being apologized for. I think the apology is for a snippy email along with not returning a phone call that was received after 10 pm. That is not the visible cause of rather serious offense (see rule #6).
What appears to be one of the biggest issues is the magazine copying many articles (not just this one). At least that is one of the biggest issues that so inflamed the blogosphere, along with the lack of knowledge of copyright law. That major offense of copying an article is translated, if I read it right, into apologizing for copying one article late at night because the editor was tired and overworked and had to fill in the last space in the magazine so it could go to print and you just can’t afford enough staff when working on a small magazine. I think that cuts against rule #1, along with #2 and #3 again, which makes that comment a three-fer.
Those muddled comments completely overwhelm those sentences that are actually an apology, essentially negating them. Might be time for a revised apology effort.
From my own personal experience at messing things up, I know how painfully difficult it is to simply say “I’m sorry. I was wrong and I hurt you.” Pride makes that very, very hard to do, especially for us men. (Hold the exhuberant choruses of AMENS from the ladies please.) Making such an apology in public would be even more painful. I also know from (frequent) personal experience the wonderfully cleansing power of such an apology.
I hope that in the future, all of us (including Ms. Griggs) can keep in mind how to make an apology.