The power of apology

I read in the Metro today that everyone seems to be saying sorry at the moment!

Whether it is footballers Eric Cantona (Kung-fu kicking a fan) or John Terry (racial abuse), you tube star Nick Clegg (breaking tuition fee promise), Apple CEO Tim Cook (google maps failure), actors Christian Bale (film set rant) or Kristen Stewart (infidelity), everyone seems to want to apologise at the moment. Even former US President Nixon says he “let the American people down”. There has even been an interview uncovered with the late Jimmy Savile forewarning that he would eventually be found out as less than worthy.

Whatever the context, an apology or expression of regret can be an extremely powerful tool in resolving difficulty. It helps to convey a human side, promote empathy and diffuse animosity in any argument.

When mitigating in criminal cases barristers have long recognised the power of an expression of genuine remorse. Indeed this is a factor to be taken into account by Judges when considering appropriate sentence.

Mediators are well versed in the advantages of being able to deal with statements of regret within the safe confines of a confidential mediation setting. The recent tide of expressions regret by well known figures is of course designed to be public. Could it be that some of our tried and tested mediation techniques are finally catching on?

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