We Have Just Experienced
the first Presidential Debate of this American election. Speaking as a communicator who puts a value on how words are used, it’s hard to know where to start, so I’ll just leave it there. This does, however, seem like a good time to pivot to my Canadian roots.

It’s Become a Meme-Worthy Joke
Canadians say sorry. A lot. Especially when somebody else bumps into us. It’s a joke, and at the same time it’s not. It signifies more of an I’m OK, you’re OK, no hard feelings kind of check-in. We’re both good here, no biggie, let’s move on with our day. It’s clean, direct and no one is left wondering, “What was that all about?”

Word Choice Matters
How we say what we say makes all the difference. Contrast that simple sorry with the tortured apologies we hear in the public arena. They’ve even become their own thing. “A non-apology apology, sometimes called a nonpology, backhanded apology, or fauxpology.” (Wikipedia). In other words, it’s not really my problem.

Who’s Anyone?
If an apology applies to anyone who’s been hurt, discriminated against, insulted, abused, etc.  it doesn’t work. It’s that simple. The word anyone is the give-away. The reference should be to those who have been, or all those who have been, or everyone who has been. Anyone is first cousins with someday and we all know that someday is not a day of the week.

What Do You Mean If?
If my behavior struck anyone as insensitive, I’m sorry as that was not my intent.” “If my words were construed that way, I apologize for their misunderstanding.” And if the whole setup is conditional, then the apology is not real.

Say What You Mean; Mean What You Say
These are harsh times and truth and trust seem to be in short supply. Let’s try and keep our own communications as simple and clean as we can. When it all starts feeling tied up in knots, pause, take a deep breath, exhale and keep these 5 guidelines in mind:

  1. It’s not about you.
  2. Take responsibility.
  3. Be genuine.
  4. Acknowledge truth.
  5. Build trust.

And if I’ve offended anyone reading this…sorry.

Keep up the faith; we are all in this together. And most importantly, please stay healthy and well.

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