Tiger Woods gave his apology. No surprise in that, since public apologies are rampant these days, even from the Toyota folks. I saw a report on one of the talking head stations that Mr. Wood’s sponsors accepted his apology. I don’t know which ones, but it’s not really germane here. This started me to wonder what accepting an apology means. So I turned to Wiki.answers and here is how it defined an apology: “An acknowledgment expressing regret or asking pardon for a fault or offense.” So by offering his apology Woods apparently is saying that he is sorry for what he did and he is asking us to pardon his fault or offense. I have had as a general rule that when I complain to a customer service representative about something their employer has done that is faulty or when the employer has committed an offense against me, that I hear the apology as accepting responsibility for the employer’s mistakes. I then will hold my pique in check. If they give me something akin to “that’s the way we do it” I mostly become angrier. But even an apology does not lead me to forgive the perceived offense. To me, accepting an apology takes our customer/ business relationship back to a somewhat neutral place, but it does not mean that I pardon the original offense. In other words, I am willing to forgo my anger until I see what happens next. So, if I accept Woods’ apology, I think I am only saying thanks, but I reserve the right to see that the offense does not happen again. An apology is a good first step, but to show that it is more than manipulation, the person giving the apology must show over time that he/she will not commit the offense again. In addition, by saying” thanks for the apology” I am not always saying that I forgive the transgression because some transgressions are so great that they cannot and maybe should not be forgiven. To me that’s a good self-protection strategy, that is, it makes me wary of the guilty party and what he/she might do in the future. Even if Bernie Madoff apologized to me for stealing my money, I would not give him my money to invest again. So if I was Mrs. T. Woods, I would say thanks for the apology and then proceed with great caution. “Once burnt, twice shy” seems appropriate. It the transgressor finds that unacceptable, then so be it. At least I would not have fallen victim again.
I am a clinical psychologist by training. I have a specialty in substance abuse and I consult from time to time. I have a wonderful daughter. I have a rich lifestyle that supports my interest in the arts, especially my painting and photography. I am passionate about social justice and the notion that we are in this together and must not turn our backs on the least of us and those in need.