We’re all familiar with the phrase, “Regrets Only,” on invitations: it’s the fast-track way party planners of sought-after events let us know that since it’s likely we’re coming, there’s no need for further action unless, in fact, we aren’t.
Perhaps this is the reason I find Tiger Woods’ use of the phrase, “I regret those transgressions with all of my heart,” so soulless—it distances him from genuine remorse.
What would I recommend instead? To me, “I am deeply sorry for my transgressions, and regret them with all my heart,” would have read as far more heartfelt. For starters, the use of “my” rather than “these” takes ownership for what’s occurred. And, as stated, earlier—thanks to its frequent use in a social context– “regret” feels like a sanitized version of “sorry.”
For whatever reason, however, “I’m sorry,” seems to be off the table when it comes to apologies of this kind. As I noted at the time, not once during the course of his sixteen minute and thirty-four second apology did John Edwards utter those magic words. Instead, he “made a mistake he is responsible for,” and informed us, “It is inadequate to say to the people who believed in me that I am sorry, and it is inadequate to say to the people I love that I am sorry.”
I guess I’m unclear on when “I’m sorry,” became inadequate. Did anyone you know get a call about it?
(Apparently Mr. Spitzer did, for although he stated that he, “acted in a way that violates his obligations to his family,” he did not, in fact, say he was sorry.
Now I understand there are people out there who feel I’m being too nitpicky about this—that I should look at the intention behind the words of the apology, and I do. But the fact is I find the accountability inherent in “I’m sorry,” a far more powerful choice, and I want those of you seeking the biggest WOW Factor to make the most powerful choice in any and every situation—regrettable or (hopefully) otherwise.
I look forward to your thoughts.