Serious Lessons about Apologies

This article in MarketWatch “Kathy Griffin totally offended everyone, but here’s one thing she did right – The comedienne drew widespread condemnation for her ‘decapitated’ Trump photo” offers some real lessons about behavior, actions and apologies.

Comedienne Kathy Griffin apologised about a stunt in which she posed with a fake bloody mask designed to look like the head of President Donald Trump.

In her words: “I am sorry. I went too far. I was wrong,” with a video, in which she says, “I went way too far. The image is too disturbing. I understand how it offends people. It wasn’t funny. I get it. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my career. I will continue. I ask your forgiveness.

Various experts have commented on her apology doubting the sincerity of it BUT what really stands out for me is that her track record – her past history making a living at going over the line, and how it “bites” her now.

The problem with apologies is that while your words may be heard, the deed has been done, and consequences will flow.

There is always consequences. If you caused the demise of someone, do you think the authorities and the bereaved will accept a verbal apology? The law will take its course and forgiveness?

I concur with Jonathan Bernstein, president of the public-relations consultancy Bernstein Crisis Management. “Given Kathy Griffin’s history as a comedienne, I doubt many considered her apology to be sincere,” he says.

There has already been consequences. Since Griffin posted the photo, SquattyPotty bathroom products suspended its campaign with Griffin and CNN said Wednesday it was cutting ties with Griffin. “CNN has terminated our agreement with Kathy Griffin to appear on our New Year’s Eve program,” it said.

For Bernstein, no apology will ever be enough. “There are some wrongs you just can’t right.”

So, what are the takeaways?:

  1. Think carefully before you act or speak. Words and Actions have consequences.
  2. Always consider your Stakeholders. It is my opinion that if we consider out stakeholders and how they might react, we may see different ations and outcomes.
  3. If you are going to apologise, do so quickly, BUT do it with sincerity.