The Apology Impulse: How the Business World Ruined Sorry and Why We Can't Stop Saying It

  • 5h 20m
  • Cary Cooper, Sean O'Meara
  • Kogan Page
  • 2020

Saying sorry is in crisis. On one hand there are anxious PR aficionados and social media teams dishing out apologies with alarming frequency. On the other there are people and organizations who have done truly terrible things issuing much-delayed statements of mild regret.

We have become addicted to apologies but immune from saying sorry.

In January 2018 there were 35 public apologies from high-profile organizations and individuals. That's more than one per day. Between them, in 2017, the likes of Facebook, Mercedes Benz and United Airlines issued over 2,000 words of apologies for their transgressions. Alarmingly, the word 'sorry' didn't appear once.

This perfectly timed book examines the psychology, motivations and even the economic rationale of giving an apology in the age of outrage culture and on-demand contrition. It reveals the tricks and techniques we all use to evade, reframe and divert from what we did and demonstrates how professionals do it best. Providing lessons for businesses and organizations, you'll find out how to give meaningful apologies and know when to say sorry, or not say it at all.

The Apology Impulse is the perfect playbook for anyone - from social media executive through to online influencers and CEOs - who apologise way too much and say sorry far too infrequently.

About the Authors

Sir Cary Cooper, CBE, is the 50th Anniversary Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at the ALLIANCE Manchester Business School. He holds the office of president of the CIPD, the British Academy of Management, RELATE and Institute of Welfare.

Sean O'Meara is the founder and MD of Essential Content, a specialist content and PR agency. He's worked with leading organizations including The Co-Op Bank and the BBC.

In this Book

  • Introduction
  • Who's Been Apologizing and What are They Sorry About?
  • The Six Reasons Organizations Apologize and the One Reason They Won't
  • Culture, Values and Consumer Expectations—Why ‘Sorry’ Means Different Things to Different Industries
  • The Definitive Modern Apology and Why Everyone Ignored it
  • If Everyone's Sorry, Nobody is Sorry—Are We all Apologizing Too Much?
  • How the Experts Apologize without Saying Sorry—‘Runway Excursion Incidents’, ‘Re-Accommodating Passengers’ and ‘Overpressurization’
  • Schrödinger's Apology, Grammatical Deflections and Evasions
  • Crisis Fatigue and the Case for Rationing Apologies
  • It's Not about You—How CEOs Sabotage Their Own Apologies
  • Keep trying—Why it Took Three of the World's Biggest Brands Three Attempts to Say Sorry
  • ‘Forced to Apologize’?—Fostering Resilience and Identifying Customer Intent
  • ‘We Got it Wrong’—What to Say When You've Killed a Puppy (and How to Fake Humility)
  • Self-Service Apologies—Performative Crisis Management and Teaching Consumers to Expect Too Much
  • Optics Anxiety and Apologizing for How Things Look
  • The True Cost of Corporate Atonement—Why Frontline Staff Pay the Price
  • The Economics of Saying Sorry—Why an Apology Could Cost $5 Billion
  • Crisis Communications and the Potential for Mischief—How Organizations Profit from Their Rivals' Apologies
  • Apology Laundering—How a Supermarket and an MP Were Defrauded of ‘Sorry’
  • Apologizing on Behalf of others—Lessons from Car Makers, Presidents and Freelance Apologizers
  • £1 Million in Sales in Four Days—Discover the Unexpected Benefits of Not Saying Sorry
  • Don't Mistake Kindness for Weakness—Why the UK's ‘Nicest’ Brand Refused to Say Sorry
  • Conclusion—How to Manage the Apology Impulse and Deliver Meaningful Responses
  • Notes