Outrage culture has left businesses unable to sincerely say sorry. Instead they apologize routinely for trivial transgressions, issuing 'fauxpologies', 'nonpologies' and baffling their customers with incomprehensible jargon in a way that undermines their reputation, damages their credibility and impacts on their bottom line. In The Apology Impulse,authors Cary Cooper and Sean O’Meara reveal how businesses are getting it wrong on an epic scale. Whether it’s Paperchase apologising to the Twitterati for a marketing promotion with the Daily Mail and cutting themselves off from the Mail’s 1.5m readership by promising never to advertise with them again. Or the boss of United Airlines apologising for ‘reaccomodating’ a peaceful passenger who was bloodied by United staff and physically dragged from his reserved seat so it could be given to aircrew for United’s operational convenience.
Cooper and O’Meara show how the business world is increasingly driven by an instinctive fear of mass disapproval and hyper-sensitivity to even the smallest criticism. They apologise for the most trivial of things but withhold the big apologies when things really go wrong, due mainly to an unfounded fear of litigation. Getting it wrong is damaging – but getting it right can enhance an organisation’s reputation even in the midst of a major crisis. Nick Varney CEO of Alton Towers was widely praised for his direct, plain-speaking and empathetic handling of the rollercoaster crash. He accepted full responsibility and made sure the victims were at the heart of his response, famously replying “you’ll forgive me if I’m not really focused on the share price at the moment”, when asked about the commercial impact.
Why this book matters:
- More and more businesses are apologising – but few of them are actually saying sorry. In just one month in 2018 there were 35 public apologies from high-profile organizations and individuals. More than one per day
- In 2017, the likes of Facebook, Mercedes Benz and United Airlines issued over 2,000 words of apology. The word 'sorry' didn't appear once
- Many businesses are now addicted to issuing fauxpologies. They are hyper-vigilant, over-sensitive and lack the confidence and integrity to apologise correctly or to stand their ground- and its hurting their bottom line
- Getting an apology wrong costs – BP spent $50million on ‘apology advertising’ after the definitive bad apology by the CEO who ‘wanted his life back’ following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill
- Apologising correctly can pay dividends - Tesla’s value leapt by $475bn when Elon Musk apologised for being rude to investors
- The Apology Impulse explores the best and worst examples and shows how by apologising properly and delivering an honest sorry, businesses can survive a crisis, please customers and enhance their corporate reputation.
The Apology Impulse explores our modern addiction to apologising without really saying sorry. It looks at the best and worst examples to help readers understand when and how to make meaningful amends and why respectfully holding your ground makes you better at being sorry. It reveals the tricks and techniques we all use to evade, reframe and divert from what we did. Explaining the psychological reasons why people quickly demand apologies and why businesses are so quick to give them. This important book illustrates why stage-managed apologies can harm businesses and their clients and provides essential lessons for every business, CEO or communications professional who may find themselves in the eye of a crisis in the future.
Professor Sir Cary Cooper is the President of the CIPD, 50th Anniversary Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at the ALLIANCE Manchester Business School, University of Manchester. In 2015 & 2016 Sir Cary was voted the Most Influential HR Thinker by HR Magazine, and then inducted into their HR Hall of Fame.
Sean O'Meara is the founder and MD of Essential Content a specialist content and PR agency. He's worked with leading organisations including The Co-Op Bank and the BBC.
The Apology Impulse
- The Apology Impulse
- Written by Professor Sir Cary Cooper and Sean O'Meara
- Published by Kogan Page
- Paperback Version: £45.00