How to Apologize Like Tiger Woods

We all make mistakes. If it's a really big mistake (say, an unauthorized "hike along the Appalachian trail") and you're an ...
by | March 26, 2010

Tiger We all make mistakes. If it's a really big mistake (say, an unauthorized "hike along the Appalachian trail") and you're an elected public official, then you might have to apologize.

But how do you make a good apology, like Tiger Woods, and not a bad one?

In the latest issue of "The Jury Expert," consultant Beth Foley presents several suggestions, as well as an interesting discussion of what chastened elected officials are seeking when they step before the cameras.

Foley's six key steps are the following:
  • Acknowledge that you did wrong.
  • Take responsibility for your actions.
  • Acknowledge the impact your actions had on others. 
  • Apologize for having cause pain or done damage. 
  • Don't make excuses. 
  • Match the message with a humble demeanor and appropriate nonverbal communications.  
Notable failed apologies include that by former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer  ("a cold, unemotional recitation of a scripted apology, which he read with minimal eye contact and a guarded demeanor," says Foley).

And the notable success? Tiger Woods. (" Tiger Woods appeared embarrassed and ashamed in a public statement that lasted approximately 13 minutes. Though imperfect, his nonverbal communication overall and his saddened facial expressions were a clear indicator that he was sorry. ")

John Buntin
John Buntin  |  staff writer
jbuntin@governing.com  | 

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