Century Marks

Say you’re sorry: A sincere apology can mend a broken relationship and heal the grievance of an offended party. But forced or insincere apologies, including ones in which the offender doesn’t acknowledge his own wrongdoing and only expresses regret that the wounded party was offended, are ineffective and can even backfire. Aaron Lazare believes there is also a linguistic problem in English. Any student of Greek knows that “apology” comes from the Greek word for defense, whereas in some other languages the word used for apology admits wrongdoing or implies guilt by the one apologizing. Lazare thinks there is also a gender problem with apologies: women apologize more than men, sometimes to excess, because they are more likely to feel guilty about certain kinds of behavior and are more inclined to work at healthy relationships.

 

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