> When you see others making mistakes, first help them see their mistakes and deal with them (e.g. by recycling this text, or by independently offering your analysis and answers to Steps 1 and 2 above).
> Remember you make mistakes too, and be tolerant of the time it may take people to accept that they have made a mistake. (But you don't need to allow them to insist they have not made a mistake.)
I especially appreciate this. Far too often I see people reacting to people's mistakes with anger and hostility, instead of first trying to 1) understand the situation, and 2) help the person who made the mistake (if there even was one) understand the mistake.
A little kindness goes a long way.
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Tax collectors operating within this incentive structure were not likely to be very likable.
This was possible because it was a slave society, and it was possible for the tax collector to collect your children into slavery in lieu of unpaid taxes. In some areas in Anatolia, which were close to the border of the empire and thus had a significant military presence that the tax collectors could fall back on, so the local population had no possibility to push back, entire societies were ended because the Roman publicans collected all children once they reached the age where they could be profitably sold (circa ~10 years or so, and sold usually to sexual slavery), and did so for long enough that the populations collapsed, never recovered, and were eventually replaced by other populations transplanted from elsewhere in the empire. (Later, the power of the publicani was seriously curtailed, in small parts because even the Romans thought that some of their practices were abhorrent. Albeit mostly because of internal power struggles with the senator class.)
So yes, people in the provinces had plenty of reasons to hate the tax collectors.
On the one hand, they were a cultural byword for a morally degraded profession at the time. "Tax collectors and prostitutes" is a phrase that comes up not infrequently in the gospels, and not just out of Jesus' mouth
So apparently the practice of tax collecting was a little weird in the Roman Empire.
On the other hand, he was known for having dinner with tax collectors and prostitutes. One of his 12 disciples was a tax collector.
Before I was into open source I was always afraid to show my code to anyone because of the critique I could expect. But some coworkers helped me get the confidence I needed to go open source (within the company, not public internet). Being completely open about everything and accepting critique publicly really helped me grow as a developer to also be open to others. I wonder if I would have made the same transformation if I was only critiqued in private.
On the other hand, it's not normal and not often practiced to go digging to see whose mistake introduced a bug and call them out in public on it - that would be what shouldn't be done at all.
Not only (technical) bugs are reported, but also design decisions and such. A lot of those things often come down to difference in opinion. I've seen some developers be really adamant about how a bug was actually a feature.
> The openness of issue trackers even helps elevate that.
I agree partly. For me it helped see things different and make a positive growth. But I can image some staying afraid to enter or be deterred really quick never coming back.
>> This follows the "praise in public, punish in private" maxim.
So like the previous poster said. I am wondering if Github et al. should not contain a private channel.
I have a email on my Github page. And besides spammers I sometimes get questions regarding my projects. I don't know if it is due to people not understanding Github that well or wanting to contact privately. But for some reason they didn't open a public issue.
 I've met a lot of technical people that just are afraid of Github because it is complex. Electrical engineers, mechanics, embedded engineers. People I figure would understand software development concepts.
 Asking a stupid question publicly could also count toward making a public mistake depending on how secure someone feels about themselves.
 There is of course also the discussion if issues should be your projects helpdesk next to being an bug tracker. And raising an 'issue' for something that might just be a question might feel strange for some.
And sometimes they are feature, and it's the users that are mistaken on what the project they are using is offering them. It's a fine line, I'm sure, but different projects have different goals, and those goals will align to a specific user's needs differently depending on the user.
> So like the previous poster said. I am wondering if Github et al. should not contain a private channel.
It might depend quite a bit on the project. In an open source project with many contributors, there isn't really any meaning to "private" other than "limited to a subgroup of the people that care", and those people may have little to nothing with the design and implementation of the items in question. In a project that is mostly driven by one author that controls it and accepts some patches, that might be a lot different, and criticism may be received differently.
There's a whole spectrum there, and even if you provide the tools to allow different types of contact, what's to prevent people from using the wrong tool most the time? Rust, PHP, Perl, Bind, Apache etc aren't going to benefit much for a private list for first contact of regular bugs, but people would use it. Meanwhile someone's random personal project is still going to get people making public requests even if they prefer them private. In the end, I think we're all better served by a "public by default" for open source stuff, and for things people feel is actually private (security related items, for example), they'll look up a private contact or personal contact for someone related.
I contributed to launching a few products. After countless hours of design debates, code writing, code review, the baby was finally ready to see the world ... but nobody cared. Not even a drive-by troll bothered writing "this is completely useless".
My Motto: "That product sucks, but wow! It made it on the shelf."
We all get it wrong sometimes.
What am I supposed to do with people who won’t learn from their mistakes (in the workplace)?
I’m directly affected by them as they increase my workload, so I can’t just ignore them.
I recently pointed out to a different coworker some whitespace inconsistency in a pull request in a similar fashion as I had pointed out a while back.
In digging deeper into both situations where I was the reporter or the reportee, the issue came down to legitimate lack of agreement on whether it was indeed a mistake.
For example, I sometimes write "too be honest…". I've known it is wrong for decades, but occasionally am still not able to see it. Still happens about one out of every fifth time.
Just use transformers :)
If that doesn't help, ask the manager the same - emphasizing you are not attacking the person but looking for a way to stop wasting time on correcting the same repeating mistake which adds to costs and decreases productivity. That may generate some resentment (so trying to resolve it directly first is prudent) but if you avoid framing it as a personal fault it would usually help.
You might start by directly asking, "Why do you keep making this mistake?" It might be because they're careless, or lazy, or maybe they really don't believe it's a mistake (they just acknowledged the mistake to get you to go away). Or maybe they just need a little help, such as automated reminders to get them to check for those mistakes.
Sadly, there are people who will not learn from either kindness and teaching, or harshness and harrassment. In the workplace, you can make an appeal to the manager, but perhaps only after discussion with coworker has failed to produce the desired results.
Public apologies stamp official guilt on the individual and therefore serve as a license for the mob to further punish them because now they have admitted their fault and therefore are 'officially' guilty of the crime. Public apologies, therefore, are the metaphorical equivalent of blood in the water for attracting sharks.
Maybe it's better to just ignore and maintain innocence because then at least there is some gray area? I don't know.
In my own company I try to apologize every time I screw something up. I know my position is unassailable, and my team members should have trust that their leadership is in touch with reality.
I am also cognizant of the fact that no hired employee has the same level of security, and it troubles me.
Refusing to apologize has the opposite effect.
What I try to do is apologize concisely, but then feel free to ignore people who want to drag this out into "that was not a REAL apology" / "now confess to your OTHER crimes" territory.
But even in those situations, I see absolutely no upside in publicly denying your mistake at length, if in fact you've made one.
On the one hand, you have the people who are talking about when you genuinely make a mistake, and recognize it as such before public outcry.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have people that maybe feel that they were acting / talking / behaving in a way that is normal but are being told that they made a mistake. In these circumstances, there is usually the issue that the nature of the mistake is quite subjective.
In the former case, your strategy is probably a good one. In the latter, I think the "don't apologize" is probably the better way to go, for the reasons outlined by GC.
If e.g. Kavanaugh had admitted assaulting Ms. Ford and apologized, do you think enough Democrats would have said "Apology accepted" and voted to confirm to make up for the Republicans who would be unwilling to vote to confirm someone who has admitted to sexual assault? As long as Kavanaugh denies it, everyone who votes for him can just publicly say that they believed his denial, whether or not they actually did believe it.
As far as Kavanaugh, obviously none of this applies if he is not-guilty, because few advocate apologizing for things you didn't do. However:
There are a lot of middle-aged adults who did terrible things when they were teenagers. Among those, the ones who own up and apologized are excluded from many positions of power, while those that deny it are included.
So for this particular subset of the population, we punish the best, reward the worst, and incentivize any fence-sitters to lie. Perhaps it's a bit OT, but something is clearly broken here.
That depends on the level of power the said adult has accumulated. We've witnessed people who were persecuted for most minor transgressions, and people who were forgiven for very major things (e.g. credible rape accusations, being an officer in the KKK, being a member of a terrorist organization, being in prison for murder while being a member of a terrorist organization, etc. etc.). That, of course, needs very powerful position and very powerful friends - which none of us likely has.
I also find it interesting how the issue of admitting to making mistakes is being conflated with apologizing. While they are related, there is an important difference: a person who will never apologize is merely immature, while one who never admits to making mistakes might be a dangerous liability to himself and others, and is unfit for positions of responsibility.
I mean, it is absurd expectation. Apology does not even absolve you if minor crime in legal system. Plus, Supreme Court has great only little checked power. I just don't see someone willing to use power that way as suitable, even if he apologized.
Which is why you don't deny it either; you move on, avoiding the Streisand Effect as best as possible by not engaging. It's passive denial vs. active denial.
I'm not saying this is moral or good - I'm only saying that it seems to work for people. It's a question of game theory. We can get better apologies if we start to accept apologies and move on with our lives, but the mob wants blood and these days the public apology only serves as an admission of guilt, absolving the mob of any evil when they pull the person apart limb from limb.
"...absolving the mob of any evil when they pull the person apart limb from limb."
That's a little excessively dramatic, don't you think?
It's 2020, everything's a little excessively dramatic
To that end, an apology that allows s/o to "get out" as in "saw no further consequences" isn't necessarily what's being claimed, because it still needs to come with (some) costs, even if they are mostly symbolic.
And, yes, of course there are people apologising for all sorts of behaviour that's being criticised every day. A Google News search has about five dozen examples from just the last day or two. If apologies are never beneficial, I doubt they would be used that often.
Apologies are also a central factor in the most formalised system of "being cancelled" we have, the criminal justice system.
As to "getting out" of "being cancelled" by "mobs" I wouldn't know since I already have trouble identifying what that's supposed to mean.
I have a strong suspicion that you know what I mean, you just don't want to recognize that. If you indeed know nothing about cancel culture, I envy whatever bubble you reside in, and I wish I could organize my life to never encounter it too, however it is not so for me. If you pretend not to know about it because you don't want to engage in discussion about it, well, I certainly can't force you.
> And, yes, of course there are people apologising for all sorts of behaviour that's being criticised every day.
You may find it hard to believe, but I actually know people do such thing as "apologizing". I do it myself once in a while. My question was in specific context of the comment "Agreed. Apologizing may keep the mob size small and insignificant." and related to this context, not to general act of apologizing and whether or not it is practiced in human society. I think you have missed this context and from that follows your trouble to identify what I supposed to mean. I think I made it cleared now, or at least did as much as I could to make it clear.
Also the related phenomenon where people walk through cities being casually and formally anti-semitic, deliberately crashing cars into groups of people, but call the other side "mob", because they complain about that on Twitter.
I think you are confusing your imagination with reality. Nobody - and by that I mean literally, without exaggeration, no single person who lives or ever lived - ever pretended that Harvey Weinstein raping women is the reason they don't want women on their team. Not "everybody", not somebody - literally no single person is pretending or ever pretended that. Moreover, you know that as well as I do, I am certain of that (because you don't know any such person, by virtue of such person not existing). So why are you writing these obviously false words?
> Because apparently "showing up at their colleagues' hotel room doors, naked and at night" is somehow just bound to happen in the course of standard operating procedures.
I do not know who told you that (I suspect you imagined it just as you did the above) but it certainly is not the course of any operating procedures at all. None of them.
> Also the related phenomenon where people walk through cities being casually and formally anti-semitic, deliberately crashing cars into groups of people, but call the other side "mob", because they complain about that on Twitter.
People who walk through cities being anti-semitic and people who complain about cancel culture are distinct sets of people whose intersection is minuscule. And you also know it. Also, cancel culture is not complaining on Twitter about somebody marching somewhere, and you also know it too. Again, you are writing words which both you and everybody reading them knows are false. What for?
It is not like actresses who lost careers because they refused Weinstein could ever get their careers back. And it is not like those who complain about securely harassment cold easily get new jobs - people are afraid to hire them.
If possible, do not immediately make any statement and if in a organization, make an "we are investigating" response. Most mobs are moved by emotions and herd mentality so just being silent for a while can disperse the worst of the mobs.
Make an thorough apology (like the guideline here) later.
Most internet mobs just move on to the next totem pole to burn in days so this seems to work (and is indeed how a lot of companies respond if they can't just fire someone and get over it)
A real mob, such as campus students can be a bit more troublesome.
Every time a person/company apologizes for getting caught, it demeans public trust in everyone’s apologies.
For example, if I make a commitment to somebody and then circumstances outside my control prevent me from fulfilling it, I may very well say "it's not my fault, apologising would be insincere". But to an external stakeholder what they see is they are wearing consequences and I am not accepting accountability. There are a million shades of gray according to how much I could / should have anticipated the eventuality ... but that makes it really not simple to make this kind of call, and I would have to say, if you are going to err, I would rather err on the side of apologising than not.
A side effect of everyone getting 15 minutes of fame/infamy is that it means an increasing fraction of social interactions are one-shot. Often, the only time you will ever hear about someone is when they do something dumb that catches the Twitter zeitgeist. Once the moment has passed, they fade from view.
The optimal strategy for iterated prisoner's dilemma where you will interact with an opponent multiple times involves some level of fairness and give and take. The optimal strategy for single-turn prisoner's dilemma is to assume bad faith and selfishly betray your opponent.
Infer from that as you will.
Sure it has, for example Dan Harmon's public apology to Megan Ganz: https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/1/11/16879702/dan-harmon-ap...
Public apologies, therefore, are the metaphorical equivalent of blood in the water for attracting sharks.
What are some examples of public apologies that met all 5 of these criteria , but made things worse rather than better? Would you consider the possibility that maybe the apologies that made things worse were actually done wrong, but they could have helped if they were done right?
More generally, apologies, restorative justice, truth and reconciliation, and related ideas seem to me like the obvious and only way to we can heal from injustice in our society. Refusing to admit fault seems obviously corrosive to society, and to a person's ego.
[Edit: man, I feel stupid for complaining about downvotes, but I am really not sure how I could have been more constructive with my disagreement in this comment. I cited examples, suggested an alternative explanation for observations my parent described, and didn't criticize anyone. What did I do wrong? I am ready and willing to apologize if I made any mistakes]
The power advantage that young women have on men; due to evolutionary pressures. Harmon didn't mean to be attracted to her. It happened.
I know biology isn't important in 2020. But I listened to his apology and realized that the human nature discussion is never part of this situation.
Ted Chiang's "liking what you see a documentary" is a good case study of a world where attraction's turned off. As a woman, I sometimes think we aren't empathic enough about how attraction works in men. It doesn't mean they are excused for sexual harassment. I just think evolutionary pressures should be part of the discussion.
Neither person should be setup to fail.
I think there's definitely some truth to what you're saying, but I also wonder how much this is a problem offline, I've not encountered it heavily, but I'm also not a particularly online person.
I'm not sure about that.
I think there needs to be a distinction between a private apology to specific individuals for specific wrongs vs public apology to an undefined amorphous set of people. The former is certainly the right thing to do and it also offers hope of redemption because the wronged individual can accept the apology and forgive (or not). In the latter case, there is no acceptance, there's only the mob who wants to make an example of you because they now have 100% proof of your guilt.
Note that those to whom you apologize may communicate that apology to "the mob", with the result that they have proof of your guilt as well as proof of your lack of forthrightness.
In the ultimate case, if you are following your own advice, Machiavelli and my bitter cynicism suggest that not leaving live enemies behind you is the best strategy.
The world would be a lot better place if everyone did (any number of things), but perfect compliance is just never going to happen. We cannot get people to not murder each other over shoes or sports teams. Any plan which depends on this compliance is doomed to failure.
Doubtless many people have made things worse with "non-apology apologies" . But your brain wants to say "apologizing is right" because when done right, it is right.
To me, truth and reconciliation are self-evidently how we build a better world, and refusal to take responsibility for mistakes is self-evidently corrosive to the individual and to society.
If you are in a "cancel culture" situation, then people that surround you are not you friends, and they do not have common goals with you. You can not win. Best thing is to get out of that situation ASAP, if you can not - minimize your losses in any way you can. And continue looking to get out of this situation, because you can not win, and you will surely lose sooner or later. Try to still be kind to others - you won't fix the broken culture, but at least you can have a little island of non-awfulness around you.
I think that's a pretty good middle ground. Apologizing too readily might also signal you lack self-respect or confidence which may invite even more vitriol.
"Yeah, I made a mistake, shit happens, now I know better".
Though looking at current leaders of industries and countries, you could get away with just pretending you did nothing wrong.
Perhaps apologies do "serve as a license for the mob to further punish". Even so, what is the result to your life or to an organization of doing what you suggest?
This is legally because apologies from companies are so full of doublespeak and low value language that it’s a waste of my time to read, much less expect any understanding. Here’s an example from Pichai .
I do like the outage report style that some companies use  and think this is the way to repeat a problem and what you do to fix it. This takes the place of an apology or denial.
Progressives are widely known for their enthusiastic use of forcing people into public apologies for perceived crimes against the faith or for not acquiescing to unreasonable demands which can then be framed as a perceived wrong. I think a lot of the kickback against apologising that we're seeing is coming from the numerous public examples of this tactic and the follow-up where any good-faith apology will be used to make a further example of the heretic.
If you are dealing with this kind of thing then the tactic of take-cover and let the storm pass seems sane (pearls before swine etc). But if you're actually dealing with a genuine person or group who you've genuinely wronged then a real apology is warranted.
One other thing I'd add; if you have wronged someone and you've apologised and made genuine efforts to make amends. While it is on the other person to decide whether or not they will accept/forgive, it is not a requirement to indefinitely debase/lower yourself in the pursuit of obtaining their forgiveness. You can make efforts up to a point but you are not required to destroy yourself until they grant it. If the situation is unsalvageable then that's what it is.
For studys sake on how this can get out of control, there are numerous examples of shitty parents holding a past wrong over a childs head indefinitely in the raised-by-narcissists subreddit which illustrate the tactic in use by malicious types there.
A pitfall of this mentality, at least in my experience, is that people I hurt are usually much better judges of whether I hurt them than I am.
Something I learned that helped is: you can hurt someone without being wrong. "I regret that my actions had this effect on you," is a good place to start a conversation when I'm not (yet?) convinced I would have done anything differently in hindsight.
Often, simply acknowledging that someone has been hurt by my actions, and trying to understand why, has yielded far better outcomes than sticking with my judgment. Both in that they affected party feels better, and in that I get to add a new dimension to my understanding of social dynamics.
It often doesn't matter how legitimate someones' complaint is according to my personal worldview; what matters is how the affected feel.
That's just a variation of "I'm sorry you're so impatient" or "It's too bad you have no sense of humor.":
The two you mentioned are bad, because they implicitly shift the fault on the person on the receiving end, because they make qualifying statements about the person without addressing your own actions that led to it at all. Very similar to the badness of "I am sorry you feel that way about what I said", because it only addresses the person on the receiving end and makes it sound like there is something wrong with them.
"I regret that my actions had this effect on you" is not bad because it doesn't do that. It clearly just says that you are sorry for your actions causing such an effect, without making any qualifying statements about the person on the receiving end, leaving the possibility of your actions being wrong fully open.
It would be easier if people just talked more about their feelings even if they don't understand me. If I hurt someone and they just say something like "look I feel weird because of this and this that happened between us", then I can process and understand what went wrong. I spent some years running teams and doing management and I used 1v1s for this to really good results.
I do that and a lot of my closest friends also do that. I think people that expect you to read their feelings are the ones that are going to get hurt if they spend time around because they have unrealistic expectations. I can only feel my feelings, or get empathetic with people that have opened up to me before. I can't be apologizing all the time just in case, that's also ridiculous and even though a lot of people do it in, specially in California, I think it comes down as condescending and sometimes even egotistical.
However, if you've offended some of the woke crowd then this may be worse than saying nothing at all. In your example, they would say you are rubbing salt in the wound with "I regret that my actions had this effect on you." If you aren't prepared to unambiguously denounce yourself, you may (unintentionally) make things worse.
I do however find that if I actually take time to think about what's happened, a genuine wrong that might have been caused in a rush/unthought out moment is (usually) pretty obvious when looked back on in hindsight; there's usually an "aaah shit yeah that'd piss me off too" moment.
But these people are very biased judges.
Check out "Thank You for Arguing" by Jay Heinrichs. It covers the same basic steps, but recommends to exclude the actual apology part. It's also a great book for other reasons.
If that perception isn't their, it comes across as a very different message ("I'm sorry you don't have a thick enough skin")
>It often doesn't matter how legitimate someones' complaint is according to my personal worldview; what matters is how the affected feel.
I can't get behind this. Why am I responsible for the way the chemicals in someone's brain react if I say something that unintentionally hurts them? If i'm doing nothing wrong as you say and someone else is offended, or sad or hurt, that's honestly their problem.
People need to take responsibility for their feelings instead of making everyone else take responsibility for their feelings.
Why should I ever be responsible for the way someone feels unless i've done something intentionally to make them feel that way?
People's feelings are their own business, nobody else has the unintentional responsibility of random people's arbitrary feelings.
I hold a very special loathing of anyone that weaponizes process in order to control others.
"The best lack all conviction, while the worst, Are full of passionate intensity".
The cheap response is to whine about "no true scotsman" but I'd love to see ideas on how to prevent groups actually getting corrupted in this way; it's probably in the "how do we create world peace" level of problems but the cycle is getting very wearing!
The major problem with the left leaning political spectrum in america is a somewhat blind authoritarian “respect” for “diversity” where what counts as diverse is rather restricted and generally doesn’t include disagreement on the subject.
The key missing ability is getting people to empathize with each other and not to confuse radical ideas which one finds abhorant and moderate ideas one finds disagreeable.
A cheap way to make this much easier is to ban labels like political party, gender, etc. If you stop sorting people (and yourself) into bins it becomes a whole lot more difficult to be so polarized as you aren’t dividing the world into us and them by dealing with a new human one by one.
This is rarely about the apology itself, but about establishing that something wrong has happened to begin with. The fact is, a lot of pretty messed up stuff routinely happens and is simply taken as a given. The apology is simply a marker that some behavior will no longer be considered acceptable. It's hardly even a measure of accountability, unless someone is so egotistical that taking responsibility is personally harmful to them.
One charming example is this one of Morgan Freeman during the metoo saga where he was "Sexually harrassing a reporter live on TV."
I don't know anything about the alleged situation, but pretty sure he moved on with his life and is still wealthy and largely beloved.
1) He was a beloved actor with a lot of public support.
2) His attempted character assassination was recorded on film and so any stories of how the victim was "traumatised" by his "sexual harassment" not only were publicly shown to be lies but they added to a more public recognition of my earlier point that progressives believe it is okay to lie about what someone has done in the interests of destroying someone they want gone.
3) His attack happened late in the metoo saga when people had been pointing out the flaws in the "believe all women" view; after the aziz answari situation failed to hold up to public scrutiny etc but before the Joe Bidden situation resulted in "believe all women" having "never happened".
Fundamentally the Morgan Freeman story demonstrates a number of things about progressive belief; their views on what constitutes sin is ridiculous in the eyes of anyone with basic common sense, they believe ends-justify-the-means and they are willing to carry out those means.
He was okay, others weren't.
Somewhat interestingly, given the topic at hand, in the immediate aftermath of those accusations, Morgan Freeman issued an "I'm sorry if I made anyone uncomfortable" apology, which CNN used in their defense of the news clip the GP has linked. I don't really have any experience in, or opinion on, public apologies, but I thought that was an interesting thing to share.
I think the happy medium is where people are held accountable for their actions (ideally apologising for them if they really have done something wrong, which often times they have even if the response to that is overly vitriolic), and then allowed the space to make amends and move on with their lives.
You're interpreting your ideological position as normative and factual.
It is a very human behavior, and it is easily exploited and in an emergent way exploits itself in whatever way is convenient in any age.
It is clear to me that there are very smart people and very stupid people stoking the flames on this human vulnerability that so few people care to notice.
One could say it's guilty until proven guilty.
More than apologies, these two at least, are looking to punish.
2. Progressivism barely means anything. You can characterize virtually anyone who even just says anything positive about social change as progressive. Better to characterize her as a social democrat or democratic socialist, depending on your impression.
3. "Just the News" is an incredible source to list. A right-wing rag founded by the former editor-in-chief of The Washington Times. Might as well just refer to the actual tweets: https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1324807776510595078. They are about the typical denialism that follows reactionaries that did, you know, horrible things and not allowing their images to be blindly rehabilitated as public servants. Emphasis on remembering the actions of public servants, not whether someone will simply be denied employment.
4. Jennifer Rubin is a never-Trump conservative turned American establishment "centrist" (which is still a right wing position).
Another one that interests me greatly is the frequent use of the narcissists prayer in debate, have you ever heard it?
It goes as follows.
That didn't happen. And if it did, it wasn't that bad. And if it was, that's not a big deal. And if it is, that's not my fault. And if it was, I didn't mean it. And if I did... You deserved it.
I suppose I'll start the ball rolling.
1. Go silent.
> Complete public blackout. No denying, no accepting. The people want retribution, not justice. The media blackout is essential.
2. Reflect on it privately and quietly.
3. If not in violation of #1, apologize to the individual people/entity affected in private.
4. Once the mob dissipates, address the issue publically in long form.
> It is very important that it be a boring, long and solemn take on the mistake. Blog, interview, podcast, whatever.
5. Don't blame. period.
6. Set a roadmap to rehabilitation/mitigation.
7. Actually follow #6
* Step 4b is a bad idea; it has too great a possibility of re-raising the issue.
* Steps 5, 6, and 7 are completely optional and probably not recommended. If Step 4a worked, keep in mind that the strategy you have got you where you are.
* Given the above, Step 2 is a waste of time.
This message brought to you by the International Society of Misanthropes.
My point is that we shouldn't just be looking out for our interests. We should be working co-operatively to look out for everybody's interests. Ultimately this benefits ourselves too, but that's not why we should do it.
are against anyone's self-interest. It's about holding yourself accountable for you actions.
Admitting fault can open one to liability (sometimes legally). Although perhaps it depends on how one defines a mistake versus, say, an outright fault that people could find morally wrong.
An example that's not perfect (and I'm not arguing/defending one way or another) is Louis CK with the #metoo movement.
It seemed to me that his response was sincere and correct on the personal level. He acknowledged those he'd wronged, made clear the victims were in the right, apologized, and expressed a desire to improve his behavior. For all that, he was demonized.
To some extent, it felt like people were saying: "My god, you admitted it. You're worse than Harvey Weinstein - at least he had the decency to deny his actions."
> people want retribution, not justice
This. People desperately want to feel like they championed a cause, and the cheapest way to get that kick is by demanding your head on a platter on Twitter.
Some people I had the displeasure of interacting with suddenly feel more ordinary. Thank you.
I agree that there are far more constructive ways of dealing with internal (family or company) errors.
And the end result was that I became everyone's bitch. People would intentionally pick on me and be ugly to me and when it went sideways, the group as a whole would go "There she goes again!" and blame the whole thing on me and expect me to apologize and kiss everyone's ass.
I am much less free with public apologies than I used to be, though I am still equally willing to own my actions (a la "I did x. That didn't turn out well.")
There are some people in the world just looking for someone to blame and if they get it stuck in their warped tiny little minds for some reason that you are a good person to blame, good luck escaping their shit. Such people are a case of "The only winning move is not to play." and, unfortunately, you tend to find that out after the fact because they have burned you and will not stop burning you, no matter how above-board, high-minded blah blah blah you handle the situation.
Some people are just hell-bent on proving "No one is actually that good" because they have baggage, so trying to do the right thing consistently just makes you a target of their shit and they really need therapy, but aren't getting it.
Such people seem to be rather poor at letting things go and my impression is some of them will cyberstalk you for years after you try to leave whatever situation originally put you in contact with them.
(Edit: No, this wasn't about my gender. This detail has already been addressed: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25087829)
But as you say, it's also been my experience that apology and... "ownership"(?) are two very different things in American (Southern) culture.
"I'm sorry I did X" seems to signal weakness and invite criticism, if people are already so inclined.
"I did X. It wasn't the best approach / it was wrong / etc" seems to be perceived as stronger, while also taking responsibility for the mistake.
My gut says bullies key to subconscious signs of weakness, and the former is interpreted as such. While the latter projects subconscious strength, even while communicating conscious guilt.
We're all just apes in the end.
So I much appreciate what you're saying here.
“The readiness of the English to apologise for something they haven’t done is remarkable, and it is matched by an unwillingness to apologise for what they have done,” wrote Henry Hitchings in his aptly-titled Sorry!: The English and their Manners.
You step on my foot. I look at you, and say "sorry", and pull my foot away. You abashedly also "sorry" and we move on.
Am I apologizing? Hardly! The full sentence is, "Sorry, did you just actually step on my foot, what the hell?" and your reply is "Sorry, yes, I did do that, didn't mean to, apologies". Then the problem is solved and we move on.
> But in the US, I've been pounced on for a casual use of that word, as if I'd announced failure and that I owed something to the other party.
It is precisely the opposite in circumstances like the above!
At least in the UK, that's not the full sentence, or it could be, but only with a change in tone ('SOrrY?!') - to me it's more like 'Oops my foot was in your way I think, so sorry'. (Said of course before you have a chance to think 'no hang on, I wasn't in the way, you weren't looking, this isn't my fault'.)
On the flip side, when someone runs in to me or steps on my foot or something, I'll usually just look at them, giving them an opportunity to politely say, "Sorry about that." My wife tells me that it is extremely rude when I do that, but that feels normal to me.
I'm really wondering if where we grew up is playing a big part here?
I don't want to repeat it here, but I mentioned this in another part of the thread.
Half of my family is outside the United States, and I often use "sorry" in a similar context. For me it's cultural rather than regional because I'm in the southwest--and now that I think about it, I've never given much thought to people giving a non-apology "sorry." It could be there's a bit of a cultural mismatch here since there's an air force base nearby, and we often have people from the Commonwealth here (UK, Canada, Australia, etc).
I'm actually not sure what sort of answer that is now that I think about it.
For lighter things, like bumping into you, we might say "sorry" (as in, the English word), which sounds more casual and not as severe.
"Sorry" in regular conversation is a social nicety, very different from a sincere apology, even though the sincere apology may incorporate that same word.
'Sorry' to me ranges from 'Excuse me', through 'ha-ha we both reached for that/side-stepped in the same direction at the same time', all the way of course to the serious 'I regret and apologise for what I have done' that it (solely) means elsewhere.
On the flip side though, American's are constantly telling me that I'm 'so welcome' when they don't mean it (or perhaps because they're used to 'thank you' having similar infrequency and sincerity to 'sorry'?) - so I think we're even. :)
(And sometimes it's followed by an 'alright?', which is practically a C21 howdoyoudo.)
But there is also a difference between using "sorry" as an expression of sympathy when interacting with close relations, and public apologies.
I think so. I use "sorry" as a casual non-apology sometimes when I don't mean to trouble people for the same reasons as others up-thread.
It wasn't until I met my exgf when I realized that some people are perplexed by that. I said it in the context of "hope I'm not troubling you," and her immediate response was "why are you apologizing?"
Didn't help that I came back with "...I'm not?" because she insisted I was.
That said, my mother is Australian, so at least half of my upbringing is non-American, and I often don't give much thought to certain cultural discrepancies (even though I was born and raised in the US) because I have a hard enough time keeping my own straight. lol
The first two are often the same word or phrase, in asking for help or offering thanks. The third sound is usually when bumping into someone in a crowd, or in response to getting in someone's way. Or apologizing when it's taking a bit longer for me to understand a particular situation.
I have not traveled in Africa or Southeast Asia, so very likely that I am missing the point here. But I don't intend to take on the power to heal the whole world when I say "Sorry" with sincerity. I'm just trying to avoid becoming more of a problem.
Exactly this, and one of the things I eventually realised is you have to simply ignore the jackasses.
Realising that face to face these people are most likely not terribly formidable is certainly helpful but the main thing is to learn not to give a s### what they think regardless. This isn't to say you should ignore everyone, or become proud, but that you should recognise peoples' behaviour for what it is and respond appropriately, which might include ignoring it entirely.
> My gut says bullies key to subconscious signs of weakness, and the former is interpreted as such.
Without wanting to get too Homelander about it and, of course, I never would, but after a number of years of strength training it's always nice to know that if push came to shove you could probably snap the bullies in half with your bare hands. More seriously, being in physically good shape is highly underrated: it fundamentally changes who you are, and will change the way you think about difficult or challenging situations, making you more confident and capable of dealing with them. I can't really explain why this happens, but it certainly does - at least in my experience (one data point, I will grant you).
Not doing this makes even well-intentioned organizations and people feel slimy and dishonest to me. I'm evidently in the minority.
I think the biggest enabler was the response.
If someone said "I made a mistake and did X", the response was invariably "What are we going to do about it now?" or "How can we avoid doing it again?"
I guess part of it was a strong company identity and shared ownership. So it wasn't so much "You admitted a mistake" rather than "You admitted a mistake we all made (through you)".
It was weird, but I don't think I saw people get jumped on for admitting mistakes my entire time there.
Your latter statement implies an observation of a cause and effect relationship. "It was wrong", especially if followed by "because..." shows that you know _why_ it was a mistake and that you'll be able to rectify it in the future.
It truly is a thing for people to feel anxious and upset and apologize without understanding what they did wrong, and it is an admission of weakness. In a better world, it wouldn't be pounced upon. But in this world, I'd recommend that people keep a cool head and focus on observations of consequences, not acceptance of blame.
I'm the nicest most contrite person you'll ever meet -- until I'm not.
When you've made a mistake or someone claims you have made a mistake, step back outside yourself and look at your behavior dispassionately. If you don't meet the standards you've held for yourself, then apologize and make things right. But if after really separating yourself from the situating and thinking about it, you still feel like you acted correctly - stand your ground and don't engage. Or explain why you did what you did and what the consequences would be otherwise.
Or if all else fails, give one of those evasive "I'm sorry you feel the way you do" non-apologies and move on, like corporations do all the time. This is really a form of boundary-setting, and basically means "I find your needs to be not worth my time and energy, so I will extricate myself from this relationship in as inoffensive a way as I can and devote no further energy to engaging with you."
I've run into something that is kinda-sorta-similar with regards to praising other people. I really took it to heart a long time ago that I should focus on building other people up and giving credit, always keeping positive, etc. That's not terrible advice, but I've found that if you give everyone else credit too often it shifts people's perception of you. So be nice, give credit where it's due, but don't turn away praise, and accept with good grace credit that is given to you. You want people to remember that you are skilled.
When I was in high school, I got in the habit of cracking self deprecating jokes because I was one of the top students. It was a means to try to put other people at ease and signal "I'm just plain folks and not perfect and please don't be intimidated. Please relax."
Later in life it only served to convince people I was a loser and/or had terrible self-esteem issues (or both). And there is no remedy for it once that happens because how are you supposed to explain the joke?
"Noooooo. You have that backwards. I'm so sure I'm better than you that I'm trying to bring myself down to your level and seem approachable!"
Yeah, no. Just no.
Though the reality is that I have never been on an email list that was mostly female membership that wasn't poisoned by sexism. There is inevitably one or two men who have figured out how to participate in the discussion without the entire group wanting their head on a pike and you can't disagree with these men because a zillion women will jump down your throat and it ends up being seriously ugly (yes, I tend to be the woman daring to disagree with such men and having other women act horribly to me).
A more likely explanation is that when I was younger, before my health went to hell, I was fairly charming and likable. So I tended to be the center of attention and I think some people were jealous.
It was also a situation where (oftentimes) I would read the initial email and give my advice on their problem without first reading any of the replies and then my advice would change the direction of discussion because it was so much better than what had already been said. I tended to stand out and there were some people just hell bent on trying to prove that I "didn't know everything" and "wasn't above making mistakes" and "wasn't always right" and this kind of garbage.
Because I tended to stand out, the discussion on the list would end up revolving around everyone lining up to either be "for" or "against" me/my position and then I would hand everyone their head as the least worst answer because patting people on the head for agreeing with me was only going to deepen such problems.
I've spent a lot of years trying to figure out how to let my comments stand on their own and do what I can to refuse to let it become about me. There is no 100 percent cure for that tendency (of people to make things about the person who said them), but I've learned some best practices.
(Comment has been edited.)
Yes, generally speaking, that's a best practice and one I follow as best I can. Unfortunately, it can't always be followed without hamstringing one's ability to say something meaningful and address more important issues than the tendency of the world to geegaw at me for existing.
I wasn't asking for advice. Giving advice in a situation like this one tends to boil down to blaming the victim rather than trying to understand what they are saying about a larger social issue and patterns of behavior involving many people, not just themselves.
Sometimes, there are no good answers.
I'm going to go try to do other things now. If other people here want to continue to make it about me that my comment in this discussion happens to have been upvoted by other people, I'm not taking responsibility for that. It was my third comment for the day on HN and the other two have been utterly and completely ignored so far.
I have no control over other people's upvotes and a really poor ability to predict which of my comments will do well on HN. I spend about half my time going "That was brilliant. Why doesn't anyone appreciate me?" and the other half going "God, why is this being upvoted so much???" and maybe one percent of my time going "Yes, this makes total sense to me how this comment is being received." (Comment not intended to be mathematically accurate nor to cover all scenarios of how I feel about HN reactions to my comments.)
Toodle doo, y'all.
If you're only looking at racism or sexism or whatever, you're ignoring the bigger and more insidious social problems that are individual and pervade small groups and families everywhere.
When I first heard about micro-aggressions, I thought, wow, so that's what's been happing. That explains all those subtle insults, unexpected rudeness, quiet exclusions, etc. But I'm not in one of those special "marginalized" groups and being actually marginalized doesn't matter to identitarians because their politics is more important than people's welfare.
Oh, I'm not, that's what I meant by an extra level of problems, not that it explains everything, but it may exacerbate it by giving more things for people to key off of that aren't based on rational measures.
What I meant is along the lines of "yes, dealing with groups is annoying because there's all sorts of weird group dynamics and people making assumptions and not re-evaluations based on new evidence, and then it gets worse for those people that have identifying characteristics that allow people to make even more baseless assumptions.
As someone who has noticed their own knee-jerk reactions based on sex at times (due to a number of factors that mostly boil down to very little exposure to women in my specific field over the decades I've been in it based on small company sizes outside of major markets), I think you're either just entirely unaware of it, lucky enough to not be around it much, or oblivious to it.
To be absolutely clear, I have a bias on on initial interpretation of capability of women before there it information otherwise. This rears its head when I read something about a women in tech having a technical problem and assume it's because of their skill level before knowing anything about them, and it's done in a way that is beyond what I would assume about a man. It's ingrained, but I have noticed it, and try to specifically correct for it now. I would like to think it's made little or no difference in my interactions with women in tech because a) they have been extremely infrequent, and b) I try to not let my assessment of someone's skill affect how I treat them. That's probably optimistic of me though. I don't exactly feel shame about this, it's a natural part of being human. We have biases, we can either try to find them and acknowledge and/or try to work on them, or just live with them.
So what you have here is a very specific counter-example, of someone on the other side saying concretely it has happened at least for once. I doubt I'm unique in this. Most people have biases about all sorts of groups, that come out in large and small ways. Maybe you don't, or your biases are so small it's hard to note them. Forgive me if I think that's unlikely, and you have many biases for many different types of people, as everyone does, and as I do for in many other ways I'm not aware of, I'm sure.
I imagine the other side of this probably feels like people judging you for being underdressed ata group function at all times, no matter how much effort you put into it. People are going to make assumptions if you're the only person in jeans and a t-shirt at a group function of people in suits, and you'll have to prove yourself all the time to overcome people's initial assumptions. My guess is that for women in tech, life is like a bunch of that happening over and over again, unless they get a reputation that proceeds them. That doesn't seem overhyped to me at all, it seems pretty likely to me and a shitty thing to go through life dealing with.
I think women may actually get a better deal overall because so many men are trying not to be sexist that they treat them well, giving them a free pass on all those other judgable signals. Men might not even understand that a woman is revealing her inadequacy by wearing the "wrong" clothes, while they'll openly laugh at a man exhibiting "wrong" behavior.
So when do you apologize? An apology is great when you've hurt someone by making a mistake - which I would define as something you wouldn't do knowing how it would turn out. You've made a deliberate decision that in hindsight was an error of judgement. Hopefully that doesn't happen often.
What does happen often is a decision you make that hurt someone's feelings - maybe you declined to merge a pull request because the patch wasn't good, or you skipped a colleague's wedding because you were sick; in those cases you can maybe make it up to them or explain, but don't apologize - beyond the "I'm sorry I couldn't come, but I had a fever" one-liner, which is more sympathy than an apology.
Then, when you apologize, you’re never doing it to seek forgiveness. Apologies are simply an expression of regret that your actions didn’t align with your values.
How other people react doesn’t matter.
E.g. I’m sorry for A. I regret A bc I value B. B is important to me bc C. To better achieve B, I will be avoiding A in the future and striving for D and E instead.
Its working for me so far. Dis agreeable people are my daily antagonistic target. Its a great sport.
When someone of that ilk works as a moderator in an online community (or is otherwise influential in a group), it tends to wind up being a really awful cesspit while many of the members will feel they have "bragging rights" for belonging if they happen to be fortunate enough to be one of the "insiders" expected to do the bullying and not get bullied.
I'm not sure I've ever quite seen that dynamic, so I'm actually really curious for details. What kinds of things did you find yourself apologizing for? And then, what were people picking on you for? And what was the relation exactly?
If you're a moderator of a group who has to make hard decisions, depending on the group, it can be a thankless job since you'll always piss off half the people no matter what.
I suppose the original post doesn't talk about what does require apology vs. what doesn't. E.g. making a necessary and correct decision that still pisses people off is usually better done with empathy for those who it bothers, but not apology.
If you generally live by your own values, and act according to them, then (in my opinion) you should rarely need to apologise for that.
Why did you need to do a lot of apologizing, I'm curious?
If I think of particular people I personally know who frequently apologise, it often seems to me that they are doing that to centre and prioritise their own experience ahead of other people's - which perhaps was exactly the problem in the first place. That type of apology can taste slightly sour.
I find that listening is a more important aspect of apologising than talking.
Maybe you're different than the rest of us, but I imagine that most people do things from time to time that don't align with their values, either because of an honest accident, or because of a "moment of weakness". Obviously we don't need to publicly apologize for everything though.
And the only people you need to apologize to are the people who you actually hurt, not random people on the internet.
I’ve been fortunate to work at a few places where we had a really good diverse mix of people. It was there that we had the best ideas, the best teams, the best support, and the best place to work from an HR perspective.
I’m sad to read this because this experience isn’t alone. So many I’ve talked to have similar stories. I’m glad you didn’t take their crap and you continue to do what you do.
This document is a would-be harasser's checklist for extracting forced confessions and atonement schedules.
While I do agree with you for some things, some mistakes may actually be severe and need correction in a public forum and it has nothing to do with harassement.
"I'm sorry I funded Wikimedia Antarctica but..."
Everything you say after the but negates everything you say before it and now you're only trying to justify your actions. Simply, "I'm sorry I funded Wikimedia Antarctica." and proceed to describe what you learned: "I neglected to look at relevant data before doing so. I see how that affected my thinking and I'm committed to doing that in future deals."
I can't stress how much more impactful my apologies have become with people simply by leaving out that "but". Even my relationship with my wife has improved because of it and I've noticed she's started to leave off the "but's" as well, which really makes me appreciate her apologies a whole lot more.
"I apologize for shouting at you. I was short on sleep and frustrated about something else. I was wrong to take out my frustration on you."
"I apologize for shouting at you but I was tired and frustrated."
An explanation can make the apology stronger because it demonstrates that you realize what it is you're apologizing for.
Two more worth thinking about:
Explain vs. excuse. While your feelings and justifications may explain your bad behavior they do not excuse it.
Not your fault, but still your problem. The (wrong) idea that an unexpected circumstance can excuse bad behavior, because it’s not your fault.
> When the offender takes full responsibility for one's wrongdoing, a simple statement saying "I am sorry." may help build the trust. This is particularly true if there is a story of good relationship with the offender; In most cases however, it will be insufficient.
It doesn't explicitly address "I'm sorry, but..." phrasing, but does suggest limiting apologies to specifically acknowledging what was done (and the pain it caused), accepting responsibility, and expressing regret.
We had been working unwise hours for several days, and we got the fix together, and I made a mistake: I pushed it directly to production.
Man, my boss was really mad; no one had been getting enough sleep and we were all stressed. I apologized profusely and said it would never happen again. Fortunately, the fix was correct, so this could have been worse.
Ok. Do you notice what's missing from this story?
We never addressed the flaw in our deployment which made it possible to push to prod without passing test.
Apologies are for when you harm others. Some mistakes do, and some don't. A blanket policy that a mistake is an occasion for apology and navel-gazing is culturally harmful, because it casts mistakes as personal failings, when they are frequently the result of institutional or procedural shortcomings which can and should be addressed.
In such a situation, multiple mistakes were made. If that work culture could somehow support honest, open, and humble approaches to understanding the problem, there would be multiple people either apologizing or, better, taking ownership of their contributions and working towards preventing them in the future (the thing you identify that did not happen). Such a culture is, unfortunately, very unlikely due to the incentive structures of company hierarchy.
The role and power of the individual for whom we're setting these expectations is very important and it's very unhelpful that this isn't considered either in that wiki page or in so many comments (not yours, yours is good). Is the person that made a mistake very powerful and do they have a PR team? Their approach will probably be purely cynical. Is it a company? We should stop anthropomorphizing companies. Is it a junior colleague? Was it truly a personal error on their part or higher up or systemic? Was it a manager harming an employee? On a moral and societal level, we have to consider those harms and whether owning a mistake and apologizing is desirable or even sufficient - perhaps they should just be fired or we should consider their actions to be a crime. Or maybe "we" in this scenario is again PR thinking intended to protect the company, in which case the apology is carefully wordsmithed to avoid liability and has no real value.
When dealing with actual, non-hypothetical humans, you should be able to set your ego aside to meet them on a human level and address them as such.
Too many in this thread fear of being perceived as weak, but I find that being an unapologetic asshole is just as bad.
“Because I was worried about how people would react to X I decided to do Y”
Then after that you can write all the stuff that they list in this post.
I think it helps a lot to get the audience into the same situation you where in in their minds before understanding the context of how you actually screwed up.
How many apology posts do you write? Why would you need to write any? I don't understand why any apology needs to be public.
There are lots of occasions where we made a change the players didn't like, or we screwed up in a way that led to economic damage to some players, or just had an operational issue that led to a bunch of downtime.
Here is a random example of onee of these.
The full timeline is valuable since you can look back on it and determine what went wrong when, so you can determine what changes need to happen to prevent these same issues in the future.
One thing I find is that incident reports such as these are most useful internally, but when communicated externally, they demonstrate that you're taking the underlying issues seriously and are committed to addressing them.
Modesty and realizing you've made a mistake are good qualities, no doubt. But those traits will be used against you if you foolishly think others will be also acting in good faith when they publicly point out your mistake. If you wish to publicly apologize that's fine, but don't for a second fall for the notion that this will appease the mob. They want blood when they smell it in the water and each apology just squirts more blood into the water for them to feed off of.