In March 2011, I wrote about getting the “ifs” out of apologies.
The best way to weaken your apology is to qualify it in ways that diminish the act for which you actually apologizing.
A recent offender of this is Angus T. Jones, the “Two and a Half Men” actor who found religion…then found his own show distasteful.
His original statement (excerpted from a video): “I’m on ‘Two and a Half Men,’ and I don’t want to be on it. You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can’t. I’m not OK with what I’m learning, what the Bible says, and being on that television show. You go all or nothing.”
His apology: “I apologize if my remarks reflect me showing indifference to and disrespect of my colleagues and a lack of appreciation of the extraordinary opportunity of which I have been blessed. I never intended that.”
This is a textbook horrible apology, since it shows no real remorse.
[By the by, despite his statement that he doesn’t want to be on the show, he will still honor is $350,000 per episode contract.]
When faced with a situation you are asked to apologize for, here are three better courses of action Angus could have taken, complete with examples:
1) Don’t apologize. If you stand by your statement, stand by it entirely. Backtracking gets icky.
2) Apologize FOR the action. Apologize for whatever it is you did. No “ifs.” No “buts.”
Example: I’m sorry for my earlier statement regarding the content of my show. I’m proud of my work and grateful to our fans.
3) Apologize with valid explanation. Having a reason adds credibility to your apology.
Example: With my recent religious enlightening, my point of view on modern entertainment has changed recently. I apologize for the harm my remarks caused my coworkers and fans and the entire “Two and a Half Men” community. I am committed to making our show the best on TV for as long as they will have me.
All of these example statements would have been better than his “if”-riddled faux apology.