Monday, November 30, 2009

Detecting Deception in an Apology

I have written an essay that was too long to publish here. This is a follow-up article on apologies. The excerpt can be read as follows:

This is an essay on Detecting Deception in an Apology (DDinA) using statement analysis. The approach presented in this essay aims to be accessible to the general public by focusing on the basic elements of statement analysis and provides the ability to be manually performed in a reasonably short time with an acceptable appreciation of the truthfulness and sincerity in an apology.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Anatomy of an Apology

An apology is used to express one's regret or remorse for the harm and pain he or she has caused. A apologetic person can seek forgiveness but may also try to heal his or her own pain. It can also be an effective action toward reconciliation, whether it is in a personal or business relationship. A complete, meaningful and proper apology requires certain elements to convince the person one apologizes to that it is sincere.

An Apology Should Contain...
  • Accountability
  • Acknowledgement
  • Taking Responsibility
  • Expressing Regrets
  • Asking for Forgiveness
  • Pledge, Promise
  • Form of Restitution

Accountability
An apologetic person should present a detailed account of the situation for which it requires an apology. The specificity will convince the person that you are sincere and will increase the likelihood to be believed when you will tell the person that you are genuinely willing to take full responsibility for your actions. Failing to provide an accurate account of the events may also entirely invalidate your apology, for the simple reason that you should apologize for the same situation the person expects an apology for.

Acknowledgement
An apologetic person should acknowledge the damage or pain done by his or her actions. The specificity will convince the person that you fully understand the consequences of your actions and will also increase the likelihood to be believed when you will tell the person that you are genuinely willing to take full responsibility for your actions. Failing to provide an accurate acknowledgement may also convince the person that you are careless about the consequences of your actions and becomes a failure to validate the person's feelings.

Taking Responsibility
An apologetic person should provide a statement in which he or she takes full responsibility for his or her actions in the situation. Recognizing your role in the situation and taking responsibility for the consequences of your actions is an important step before apologizing. Offering excuses, explanations or any form of rationalization for your actions will appear as an attempt to diminish your role in the situation and avoid taking responsibility for your actions.

Expressing Regrets, Asking for Forgiveness, and a Promise
An apologetic person should express his or her regrets or remorses at this point. The preamble has been laid out in a detailed manner and in such way that your regrets accompanied with an apology will be heard and, most likely, believed. Ask for forgiveness but don't force it and don't expect it. This is where you hand back the power to the person, in a great act of humility. A sincere promise that it won't happen again may also help to obtain forgiveness and eventually rebuild a relationship.

Form of Restitution
An apologetic person should offer a form of restitution, whenever possible, to repair the damages done. This is an opportunity to make it right and possibly remedy the situation. A detailed statement including the actions taken to correct the problem and expressing your commitment to avoid the same mistakes in the future will be highly regarded by the person you are apologizing to.

A Final Word...
The lack of sincerity at any point may defeat and completely invalidate your efforts to apologize. Be clear, accurate and do not bring unrelated matter in your apology. There is no point to apologize when an apologetic person only seeks to gain from the apology. An apology is being at the mercy of another and recognizing that you are a fallible person, which is one of the reasons why people take too long to apologize (or never do).

Take time to reflect upon what you did wrong but don't let a situation unresolved for months because it may well have degraded to a point that it is impossible to fix, especially in the situations where the harm is extreme. Never assume a problematic situation is minor. Give time for the person to think about your apology but don't expect a response and don't push for one.

all this for a better world...

Monday, November 09, 2009

Personality on Paper (follow up)

You may remember the personality survey that I have prepared some time ago. I have written a small application to compile raw data in a meaningful manner and in such way to make it possible for me to interpret the data. The results are simply amazing.

The results are used to create a statistical model and the data itself is anonymous. Few of the participants have already been contacted among those who left their email address. It may take few more weeks to process all the data and type a summary. Those who have not participated yet, see the link below and leave your email address if you are interested to be contacted about the results.

I have deliberately left any explanations and instructions aside on the first round to study how people would approach the survey. The most recurring question is about the meaning of the numbers. The closest number to a trait means the highest value for this specific trait. There are two opposing traits per question to chose from, which means that it is either one or another, or simply none of them (e.g. 3).

Scoring three (3) is a bit problematic because it should not happen very often, but yet may happen; it means that you should reconsider your scoring each time that you score 3 on a question and make sure it is truthful. Those who scored the most 3s were either clueless about themselves or dishonest in their answers. There are also people who have scored only or mostly positive traits, which is too flattering to be true: it is a sign of dishonesty or self-deceit.

Thanks to everybody who have participated so far...