On Whatever, one of my new favorite blogs (I've been meaning to start reading it for years), writer John Scalzi recently published an instruction manual to apologies, that looks to me like a really good and important instruction manual on whether and when to apologize. We all learn that apologizing is important in elementary school -- this post, I think, covers the high school level of that skill. One of my favorite parts:
Are you willing to let your apology be an apology? Meaning, once you’ve apologized, are you going immediately start backtracking from it, adding caveats, exclusions, conditions and defensive annotations? It’s remarkable the number of perfectly good apologies that don’t stick the dismount. People can’t leave them alone, I suspect, because of defensiveness and ego — yes I was wrong but you have to admit I’m not the only one who was wrong here, or yes I was wrong but in general you have to admit my point still stands, or even yes I was wrong but it was wrong of you to make a big deal out of it. Which, again, is going to make things worse.