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The Problem with Chris Brown's Apology

Before Gary Chapman and I wrote "The Five Languages of Apology," we surveyed 400 people about what they looked for in sincere apologies.  We found that their answers fell into these five categories (we call them 'apology languages'): Apology Language #1: Expressing Regret "I am sorry." Apology Language #2: Accepting Responsibility "I was wrong." Apology […]

Before Gary Chapman and I wrote "The Five Languages of Apology," we surveyed 400 people about what they looked for in sincere apologies.  We found that their answers fell into these five categories (we call them 'apology languages'):

Apology Language #1: Expressing Regret

"I am sorry."

Apology Language #2: Accepting Responsibility

"I was wrong."

Apology Language #3: Restitution-Making Amends

"What can I do to make it right?"

Apology Language #4: Repentance

"I'll Try Not to Do That Again"

Apology Language #5: Requesting Forgiveness

"Will You Please Forgive me?"

Next, we asked our survey respondents to rank these five elements in order of preference. We thought the evidence for sincerity would differ person to person- and it did! After all, why are some victims satisfied by a pay-off in a court case and others just want face-to-face words? The results were that none of the five areas got more than a 28 percent of respondents saying that's what they were looking for. That means they are all of basically equal importance.

A take-away is that when PR execs go and craft their apologies and randomly hit on two of the five areas, they would only have 60 percent of the people believe they're sincere, according to our research. So the application today that nobody else is talking about is that it's important to cover all five of these key criteria for a public apology to be truly successful. Based upon our research, I now offer consultation on how to provide five star apologies.  In addition, I am rating apologies in the media based upon our five point scale. Here is a recent hot topic:

Singer Chris Brown issued an apology Sunday for an incident in which he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend, pop singer Rihanna, hours before last week's Grammy Awards.  According to news reports, Brown was arrested Feb. 8 on suspicion of making criminal threats against a woman and he is free on $50,000 bail.

My Analysis:

As with most apologies that involve court cases, Brown's apology is quite limited.  He did not specify what he did wrong (Most defense lawyers prefer it that way) and he did not request forgiveness for his unnamed mistakes.  Although he says he hopes to emerge as a better person in the future, he doesn't even toss us the bone of heading off to some sort of rehab (anger management or otherwise).  I would advise Chris Brown to at least strengthen his apology by offering some form of restitution- serving the cause of domestic violence, perhaps?

Here's an official statement from a spokesman on behalf of Chris Brown, released by PRNewswire:

"LOS ANGELES, Feb. 15 /PRNewswire/ — The following statement was issued by a spokesman on behalf of Chris Brown:

"Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired. I am seeking the counseling of my pastor, my mother and other loved ones and I am committed, with God's help, to emerging a better person. Much of what has been speculated or reported on blogs and/or reported in the media is wrong. While I would like to be able to talk about this more, until the legal issues are resolved, this is all I can say except that I have not written any messages or made any posts to Facebook, on blogs or any place else. Those posts or writings under my name are frauds."

SOURCE Sitrick And Company, Inc.

SOURCE PR Newswire

My bio:
Dr. Jennifer M. Thomas is a motivational speaker and psychologist in private practicein Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Dr.
Jen is the co-author, along with Dr. Gary Chapman of The Five Languages of Apology.  She consults with companies on leadership and relationship issues.  Visit her website: www.drjenthomas.com  and her relationship issues blog:  www.drjenthomas.wordpress.com.

Jennifer Thomas