Trump’s recent “apology” for his sexually degrading remarks, was inane, insincere and inadequate. “I said it; I was wrong, and I apologized” was designed to call off the dogs and get back to the business of attacking Hillary (and Bill) ASAP.
Clearly, Trump doesn’t have the foggiest clue as to what a sincere apology entails. So, I will help him ‘get it.’ Donald, here’s what you need to know:
- A sincere apology is empathetic, not arrogant. It requires you to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, to imagine what it must feel like to be on the receiving end of your insults. You must listen to what others are saying and do your best to understand what they are feeling. Your consciousness must be raised, as you learn from the experience.
- An authentic apology admits openly and honestly that you were wrong. It directly acknowledges the hurt you caused, the harm you did. There is no fudging, no whitewashing, no trivializing the situation (i.e. “I’ve said some foolish things.”).
- A genuine apology does not offer self-serving spin designed to get you off the hook (“I’m not a perfect person.”). You do not compare yourself to others to make your behavior acceptable (“Bill Clinton has actually abused women.”) You do not create a song and dance routine to explain why you’re not really to blame (“My comments were for entertainment.”).
- An honest–to-goodness apology begs the other person’s pardon. It is not up to you to decide when you are forgiven; it is up to the people you have offended. When you push for premature closure (i.e. “I said I’m sorry, what else do you want?”), you do not recognize that trust needs to be regained over time, not quickly granted.
- A bona fide apology is a humbling experience, particularly for a person seeking power. You cannot make it right all by yourself. You must listen. You must learn. You must hear. You must change your perspective. You must modify your beliefs. You must alter your actions. You must accept responsibility. You must seek to make restitution.
Donald, want to know what a sincere apology would have sounded like? Here is one possibility. And no, you may not copy this:
“Words cannot express how truly sorry I am for the way I have treated women. And what I have said about them. I am both sorry and embarrassed for the hurt, pain and anguish I have caused. This is especially saddening because so many women have been so supportive of me. I recognize that I must become more aware, more sensitive, more compassionate, more knowledgeable about how I speak and how I treat women and make sure such degrading comments like those that I made will never happen again.
I want you to know that I am committed to taking immediate corrective steps to regain your confidence. I am listening to you. I am hearing you. I am recognizing how hurtful my comments and attitudes have been. You deserve better—a lot better—from me. I hope I can regain your trust. And I hope you will give me the opportunity to show you how much I have changed.”
A sincere apology, like the one above, requires one to acknowledge that his actions and his words are inconsistent with his deeply held morals and values.
If this is not true, as Trump has shown over and over again, an apology, no matter how many times and how many different ways it is spun, will always mean zilch.