If you want to say sorry, say sorry lah. But psychology professor David Chan is not going to make it easy for you.
In his illuminating article entitled "Say you're sorry: How to suss out an insincere apology," David makes an apology a loaded word. Or at least, he makes it a lot of work for the apologizer.
First, he wrote about the apologizer. There are seven Rs to an apology that he or she must take note.
Second, David wrote about manipulative apologies where the receiver of such apology has to take note.
And third, he reminds us not to accept an apology too readily. It will send out the wrong message to the public at large - something we all have to take note.
If you apply David's seven Rs to an apology, many may not measure up.
He wrote that the apologiser (like an energizer) has to Recognise the damage done, Reflect about his wrong, Regret the hurt, take Responsibility without giving excuses, Request (ask) for forgiveness, Redeem by making restitution or amends, and finally, Resolve to turn over a new leaf by assuring the victim he/she will not do it again. That's the seven Rs in a nutshell.
I guess the chicken rice chain boss would find it a mammoth task to live up to all seven of those Rs.
If anything, he definitely "recognised" his error since it is all over social media. He must have "reflected" long and hard about it in a direction that has led him to "regret" his foolish act, which has so many consequences for him and his business.
From there, his deliberation must have brought him to a point that he felt he needed to take "responsibility" by asking for "forgiveness" and "redeeming" his mistakes by slaughtering 200 chickens as a peace offering. As for "resolving" to change, well, only time can divine that.
Here, David warned us about the manipulative apologiser. He is one who crafts apologies for maximal effect.
These are usually "street-smart sweet talkers" or "swindlers who con people".
He wrote, "In crafty apologies, there is more to saying sorry than meets the eye. The apologies are not genuine. They are calculated, deceptive moves to serve some self-interest or advance hidden agendas.
Their real purpose is to induce specific feelings in the offended person or the audience to garner sympathy that is otherwise undeserved, or mobilize action that otherwise would not occur. They deny, detract and cover up motives and wrongdoings that are more severe than what is being apologised for."
Phew! Good luck trying to peel off all those layers of an apologetic onion.
I guess under such tight scrutiny, the United Airlines Chief Executive would not have sauntered through (without sounding off the siren) the apology sincerity detector if one were ever installed in his airport terminal.
Lastly, David turned his attention to the receiving end of an apology. He wrote that we should not so readily accept an apology when there is a "clear" and "severe wrongdoing" committed and the offender is clearly "unrepentant" and "manipulative."
He said accepting such apology without thought can have negative consequences like giving the impression that one condones the act, thereby trivializing the wrongdoing.
Further, it may compromise the moral standing of the one who accepts the apology, discourage discernment in general, and make flippant the hurt of other innocent parties who are the victim of such offender.
Lesson? Just one.
In one article, David has managed to cram in all the lessons about apology, and they are bursting at the seam.
Indeed, sorry has become the hardest word, loaded sometimes, and a lot of work at other times.
I guess when it comes to apology, Kong Hee has since the trial taken us through all its 50 shades.
And if we'd to line them all up, that is, the two oral apologies on stage, which won him thunderous applause, and the one intimate and quietest apology written on his Facebook two days before he surrendered himself to serve his time (and of course, minus the one he said god said sorry to him), it is obvious to me that his last apology goes the deepest, addresses the widest, and touches the most.
Alas, it took him altogether (since October 2015) one and a half year to say sorry. It was definitely a long, tough and hard struggle for him to mouth those plain words (as if the first two apologies to rousing applause and accepted unconditionally by his congregation somehow needed more injection of heart-sore sincerity).
And although there were no free chicken rice and flight seat to go with it, it would nevertheless still take more than words to bridge the gap and heal all wounds he had perpetuated for the full seven years.
I guess the main lesson for us all here is to never give (or receive) an apology lightly.
More importantly, it is always wiser to think before we act because an apology, at most times, requires much more from us in time, effort and remorse than words, chicken rice and three bows. Cheerz.