This week Ofcom ruled that Jimmy Carr’s joke about dwarves on the One Show was ‘capable of causing serious offence’.
After telling the joke, he retorted: “If you’re a dwarf and you’re offended by that, grow up.”
Brilliant. I rolled on the floor laughing.
I’m thrilled with #sorrynotsorry and the move towards us all being less bothered about offending people, however, there are times when we really need to just be sorry – and say it.
I work in PR. I’m supposed to be an expert in ‘reputation management’. When someone publicly f**ks up though, the best advice I can give them is to simply say sorry.
I think we can apply this to real life as well as business.
If you have cheated on your other half. You have publicly humiliated them. Say sorry.
If you crash into someone’s car. The insurance suits tell us to deny all responsibility for fear it jeopardises a future claim. The other person is shaken. Upset. They probably need a cup of tea and to hear the word ‘sorry’.
Your online food shopping delivery van parked in the middle of the road blocking all your neighbours’ cars in. Just say sorry. The driver will move it soon.
Saying sorry is an art form. Psychologists tell us that we need to acknowledge the hurt or damage done, take responsibility for the situation, recognise your role in it, issue your statement of regret and ask for forgiveness.
Of course, you must also promise that it won’t happen again and try to resolve the situation or make amends if possible because an empty sorry is perhaps worse than no sorry.
Timing is also key. Do it straight away. In the moment. And do it only if you mean it. Don’t give any of those flimsy non-apologies: ‘I’m sorry you felt that way.’
Finally, if you have thought long and hard about saying sorry and you don’t think you should, then don’t. Be like Jimmy Carr who decided that offending 11 BBC viewers simply by doing his job, was not one of those times.
What do you think? Too much sorry? Or not enough?