I’m terribly sorry about this. I mean, I do realise the last thing you need right now is another piece of opinion. If you’ve been upset by the headline, I can only apologise. With luck we will be able to put this behind us, while agreeing that this one is very much on me.
The latest edition of New Scientist draws together several recent pieces of research into the art and effectiveness of saying sorry, and analyses how a decent bit of heartfelt grovelling affects the mood and self-esteem of the apologiser. The journalist Moya Sarner notes that studies contradict the belief that apologising undermines our personal authority. Career coaches, not unreasonably, tell you to remove all trace of by-the-rote regret from your work emails; it’s not your fault that you’re having to chase for something that was promised three days ago, so stop implying otherwise. But research seems to suggest that we overestimate the costs of contrition while underestimating its benefits; apologising increases people’s self-esteem and makes the petitioner feel more powerful. Frustratingly, though, refusing to apologise had exactly the same reported outcomes.
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