Unfortunately, it's an immediate way to screw up too.
I am constantly putting my foot in my mouth. I have a big mouth and big feet. They tend to meet often due to the gravitational pull. So apologizing is something I grapple with frequently.
I was around for another twitter kerfuffle last night. (I'm like a magnet, I swear.) And I want to talk about the most important part of what happens when you screw up. Saying "I'm sorry."
As authors we are our brand. We're the face of our books, our social media, everything surrounding our business. We're also human (I think. Some folks might be part robot with how fast they write.) We're going to screw up or say things that don't come off well.
I found an old article in the Chicago Tribune called "How to say I'm sorry and mean it." This article had a blueprint for any apology from Guy Winch.
"Winch said the ideal apology will include five specific ingredients:
1. An "I'm sorry" statement.
2. Expression of regret for your mistake.
3. An acknowledgment that social norms or relationship expectations were violated.
4. A statement of empathy in which you acknowledge that you understand how your actions my have hurt the other person.
5. A request for forgiveness."
This is a fantastic way sit down and go over what to say when you screw up. Right after you realize you've fucked up, it's easy to think, "I have no idea what to say," and then just avoid it. Steps 2 and 3 are what I know I always seem to forget to put into an apology. But they are so vital, it's important to make note and remember to put them in there.
Expressing regret, doesn't mean you express regret for how someone took your statement or action, but the fact that you understand you screwed up. Figuring out how you stepped on the toes of social norms or hierarchy, and laying that out, not only makes your apology believable, it allows you to remember why it was bad in the first place, preventing you from making the mistake again.
This does not mean every time someone is offended we need to apologize. Because we'd be doing nothing but apologizing for our entire social media feeds. BUT...when we do something actionable that excludes others, or causes real pain, we know it's wrong. The "Oh, shit, that was bad" mantra will start playing the moment the words leave our mouths, or fingers if we hit send before we thought it over.
We are all going to piss someone off at some point. If you've chewed your own foot and need to apologize, do it right. And do it without excuses. Because your apology is not the place for excuses or explanations. Say what you did wrong, why it was wrong, and say you're sorry.
Will an apology make everything okay again? Nope. But it is important to do what you know is right. Props to everyone who does apologize when they screw up. To those that dig in their heels...I made the blueprint bold so you could take notes.