Denise Cummins Ph.D.

Good Thinking

The Art of the Non-Apology

The hosts of The View us how non-apologizing is done.

Posted Sep 16, 2015

Screen shot news item from Google Search
Source: Screen shot news item from Google Search

Kelly Johnson is a nurse who cares for Alzheimer's patients. She also was a contestant in the recent Miss America contest. In her talent contest monologue, Johnson spoke about the subtle yet profound ways nurses and patients impact each others' lives. You can view her monolog here.  

While her fellow nurses praised her monologue, the hosts on The View, took a decidedly dimmer view of her effort. One host, Michelle Collins, scoffed that Johnson "basically read her emails out loud." Another host, Joy Behar, wondered aloud why Johnson would have "a doctor's stethoscope" around her neck. Apparently Behar is unaware that nurses use stethoscopes, even female nurses. You can view their scornful commentary here. 

A backlash ensued against the cattiness of The View's hosts. In response (click here), the women gave a shining example of the perfect non-apology: They essentially said, "We're sorry you misconstrued our comments." 

In a previous blog post, I discussed the art of the apology, and why good apologies are worth their weight in gold. Not only do they usually heal broken relationships, they can also save business deals and reduce the punitive charges jurors award litigants.

So what should the women on The View have said instead? Simply this: "We're genuinely sorry for our thoughtless remarks concerning Ms. Johnson's heartfelt monolog. We were wrong to say the things we did. The work that nurses do is priceless, and we want to express our appreciation to you all."

Followed by a short 3-4 minute segment highlighting nurses and honoring them for the important work they do.

Now that would have been classy.

Copyright Dr. Denise Cummins September 16, 2015

Dr. Cummins is a research psychologist, an elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science,  and the author of Good Thinking: Seven Powerful Ideas That Influence the Way We Think.

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