Do Apologies Really Work?

The answer to the headline above: No! Not anymore, if they ever had. Apologies are about as meaningless as “They took me out of context.”

Case in point: three sports talk hosts on a morning drive radio show in Atlanta do two minutes of a tasteless skit at the expense of a former NFL player suffering from ALS (a/k/a Lou Gehrig’s Disease), that horrible, incurable illness that slowly strips its victims of the ability to move, swallow and, ultimately, breathe.

All three were summarily fired. In just two mindless minutes, they might have dealt a death blow to their careers. And now they’re all saying they’re sorry. Sorry for what? The sick “bit” mocking former New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason, or for their self-inflicted reputation damage?

And instead of just drifting into the shadows, giving this stupid antic time to drop out of the news, two of them compounded the “crime.”

One, Steve “Steak” Shapiro, gave the story extended life by appearing on CNN for a nearly 10 minute segment that included an excerpt of the on-air bit. An edited portion of the interview is below, minus a replay of what they did on their radio show. Shapiro, usually self-assured, was visibly shaking, sweating, shrinking into himself.

Another, Nick Cellini, apparently attempting to deflect this major embarrassment, was quoted saying their firing was “a relief, really. That station is a sinking ship.” Nice, Nick. Dump on the station. Does this mean the skit was pre-meditated? That you wanted to get fired to put you out of your apparent misery at work? Have you thought about a change in careers?

The given in today’s environment is that all this has gone viral and will live on and on. The Internet assures that these guys will never be able to outlive their thoughtless antic.

Of course, when you flub (perhaps too light a description) like this, so publicly on the air, you’re doing the shooting at your own foot. But, thanks to technology, you’re always on the record. It’s a fact, albeit a sad one.

So, if you find yourself having to say you’re sorry, what you’re sorry for more than likely will make the deeper, longer-lasting impression than any apology.

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