There is a fundamental flaw in the workplace – especially when it comes to employee-management and employee-employee relations. It seems you can get away with anything as long as you say you’re sorry afterwards. It’s clearly the easy way out. Why accept responsibility and offer to make amends if all you really need to do is quote the last phrase of the late great Patsy Cline lyric:

I’m sorry
So sorry, please accept my apology.
But love is blind and
I was too blind to see.
I’m sorry, so sorry,
That I was such a fool.
I didn’t know, that love
could be so cruel.

People have been getting away with this for decades because Canadians are too polite. Actually it’s an insult. The worst type of apology is when the apologizer says. “I owe you an apology.” One can owe someone money, a favour, or a dinner and drinks. When was the last time you took an owed apology  to the bank – or a written apology for that matter? (Although that can go a long way when applying for employment insurance if the deed went that far.) Finally, when was the last time you actually got an apology you were owed. If talk is cheap, owing an apology is as cheap as you can get.

The last time I was owed an apology, I asked what my chances were of actually getting it.

Linda Hamilton in a September 26 article in “Say ‘Sorry’ with Sincerity” outlines steps to take to say “sorry,” but only if you really mean it.

  1. Say you’re sorry, but only if you really mean it. Prove it with body language
  2. Own your actions. Tell the recipient what you were doing or saying
  3. Explain hoy and why you will do things differently next time
  4. Make amends. Ask, “What can I do to make things better
  5. Listen to the recipient of the apology. Acknowledge their feelings.     

When Todd Bertuzzi, then a Vancouver Canuck sucker punched Steve More of the Colorado Avalanche, he apologized to Steve, his team, and every hockey fan in the universe (, he took the above steps.  He sued. The NHL suspended him for a lengthy period of time, and the boys on my broomball team spent hours in the dressing room singing the Patsy Cline song. That’s the way it should be. An apology followed by an acceptance of responsibility, and retribution.

Todd Bertuzzi’s career remains in tact.

Mike Broderick is an Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he finds employment for people with physical disabilities. Part of this work means affiliation with the Vancouver Board of Trade where he is a member of the Ambassador Club, the Burnaby Board of Trade where he is a member of the Labour Task Force, the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce where he is an active member of the 10X10 initiative, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. He does some work as a field Archaeologist and is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive magazine in Port Coquitlam. You can reach him at home at   or at

If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates


2 Responses to “SORRY IS NOT ALL YOU NEED”

  1. Sharon Says:

    You’re right, Mike. There’s a big difference between saying “I’m sorry” with my fingers crossed behind my back, and making amends. Well, written. In our e-mail group I think we inadvertently step on another’s toes. Owing to the nature of the group all we can do is say “Sorry” and remind ourselves to be more sensitive in the future.

  2. Ekaterina Says:

    I support you in being sincere. In my first year in Canada I was a little surprised seeing that people don’t mean what they say while my straightforward attitude looked pretty rude. Actually being insincere is not beneficial for people because it cause headaches.

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