Apologies have been in the news a lot lately — both genuine apologies and refusals to apologize. Every day women and men come forward to name those who sexually harassed them. Then we wait to see if the accused will apologize — or refuse.
A national conversation about sexual harassment and assault has been a long time coming. This conversation is vital, and we should all pay attention to and participate in it. But this can also be a teaching moment when it comes to apologies, because the dos and don’ts of a genuine apology aren’t discussed enough. It’s no wonder so many of those who should be apologizing right now don’t know how to.
Most of us were taught to say I’m sorry when we were children. We cut in front of another kid in line for the playground slide, and an adult would intervene and tell us to say we’re sorry. This worked for a while, and then we grew up, and apologizing became a gendered thing.