Good things have happened for me since golf superstar Tiger Woods stepped up to a microphone last week and issued an apology to his throngs of fans and friends. I learned there are actual rules of etiquette for apologies — something that might come in handy the next time my wife believes I purposely forgot a project around the house.
Good things have happened for me since golf superstar Tiger Woods stepped up to a microphone last week and issued an apology to his throngs of fans and friends.
First, I was reminded that waiting three months to apologize in a semi-public venue probably was something I should avoid — especially if I’m ever big enough to engage the news media … or Oprah.
Besides, I’m not sure a sign of sorrow after three months would do anything to get me out of my new home in a bay of the garage.
But, most importantly, I learned there are actual rules of etiquette for apologies — something that might come in handy the next time my wife believes I purposely forgot a project around the house.
According to a number of experts in the field — people who populate the Internet on a variety of Web sites, anyway — a proper apology is direct, sincere and simple.
1. A person always should apologize in person. Technically, live, streaming video feeds meet the criteria of “in person.” However, it’s better to be where you can see the reaction of the crowd. It adds significance when seeing people yawn as you recite a rehearsed statement.
2. Show real regret when apologizing. I took this to mean it’s OK to be remorseful and even grovel — as long as it appears genuine. While I’ve never mastered the art of pouting (according to my wife), my son could one day win an Oscar award for his uncanny knack for pulling on heart strings to avoid being grounded.
3. Always apologize with a simple message. With nearly 15 years of marriage under my belt, I’ve refined this step to an art form. There still are moments when I need to expand on a simple, “I’m sorry,” however. Usually those times occur when I’ve purchased any number of hunting, fishing or grocery items my wife is absolutely certain never appeared on her list of essentials.
4. It’s OK to handwrite a short note. However, anything typewritten or e-mailed is simply unacceptable because it takes away personal flavor — and is nearly untraceable.
5. True remorse should not be expressed on a voicemail message, either, mostly because the person receiving the message can record it and use it against you. Look at it like a vocal fingerprint.
6. Above all else, never rely on an “I’m sorry” card to express your sentiments. The person who wrote the rhyming prose probably doesn’t even understand your situation, anyhow.
After learning the steps of apologies, I feel I can offer a bit of advice for golf’s most high-profile player.
I might tell him it’s easier to simply avoid doing something bad, next time, rather than feeling enough guilt to reserve a room in a posh clubhouse and conduct an apology over a television network.
But, just in case I’m wrong, I’m keeping the battery charged on my camcorder and learning how to administer a live feed though my work computer because I don’t think any news stations would show up to report an apology to my wife for purchasing a new fishing pole.
Ken Knepper is publisher of The Newton Kansan. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.