Thursday 27 April 2017

A 'sorry' costs nothing, yet it is still the hardest word to say

'Bill Clinton, an individual blessed with equal amounts of virtue and vice, eventually made a clean breast of it with a public acknowledgment of presidential hanky-panky in the White House'
'Bill Clinton, an individual blessed with equal amounts of virtue and vice, eventually made a clean breast of it with a public acknowledgment of presidential hanky-panky in the White House'

John Daly

Believe it or not, the Office of the Ombudsman website has a special section dedicated to 'Making a Meaningful Apology'. Honestly. It explains that "an apology can help both sides calm their emotions and move on to put things right" and will "help restore trust and avoid future disputes".

Ah sure, that's grand so, now we've got that straight there should be no more problems at all, at all. And for those still reluctant to bend the knee in any kind of atonement, the office advises remembering "that an apology is not a sign of weakness or an invitation to be sued - it can be a sign of strength and it can show that you are willing to learn when something has gone wrong". After the events of the last two weeks in Irish politics, one wonders if a quick scan of the Ombudsman's wise counsel might have saved some people a lot of drama?

Like the famous song has it, "Sorry seems to be the hardest word…" - and particularly when it comes to doing the right thing. In Ireland, where the word easily outnumbers the Eskimos' 26 meanings for snow, expressions of regret often seem to catch in the throat - and especially when most needed to quench the flames of discontent and distance that grow higher with every hour of silence. "The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and for deeds left undone," wrote Harriet Beecher Stowe in her 1865 novel, 'Little Foxes' - a vintage sentiment that never gets old. An inability to apologise properly can quickly become a wound that festers to ultimate fatal consequences - a lesson many public figures have learnt to their cost.

Please sign in or register with Independent.ie for free access to Opinions.

Sign In

Don't Miss