On Apology
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On Apology

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  56 ratings  ·  17 reviews
One of the most profound interactions that can occur between people, apologies have the power to heal humiliations, free the mind from deep-seated guilt, remove the desire for vengeance, and ultimately restore broken relationships. With On Apology, Aaron Lazare offers an eye-opening analysis of this vital interaction, illuminating an often hidden corner of the human heart....more
Paperback, 306 pages
Published November 3rd 2005 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2004)
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Ruth Seeley
One of the best written non-fiction books I've ever read. A thorough and not too horribly US-centric examination of both public and private apologies that distinguishes between an apologia (essentially self justification) and a true apology, while exploring the very human need to admit wrongdoing (on the part of the offender) and to have the wrongdoing acknowledged (on the part of the offended party). Ok now I'm starting to sound a lawyer. This topic fascinates me - what can I say?
Not enough interesting information to be engaging. Although the chapter on when to delay an apology was definitely novel, this book felt more like a manual on common sense than a guide to repairing personal relationships.
Jan 31, 2011 Dawn added it
I read many short articles on apologies, and then read this book. I am not a self-help book fan, and while this book IS that, it is so much more. At the risk of boring you:
From Publishers Weekly
This jewel of a book reveals the many facets of the simple act of apology. Given, there are significant cultural differences in the way humans apologize. "Japanese apologies are more apt to communicate submissiveness, humility, and meekness whereas Americans are more apt to communicate sincerity," writes...more
Sergei Moska
If only I could write this well.

At first glance this books seems a little too simplistic. But looking back on it, that's just not the case. It just seems that way because Lazare is such a good writer. I mean this in two ways. First, his sentences are just easy to read. They're conversational without talking down to the reader. Second, this books is wonderfully structured at multiple levels. He carefully disambiguates the elements of an apology, the motivations that push us to want apologies, the...more
Reading this short and insightful book will make you think about your own relationships and situations in which you were the offended seeking an apology versus being the offender and offering (or coerced into giving) an apology. There are many nuggets of wisdom to be gleaned from this book, such as how to give an effective and proper apology, when to apology immediately and when to wait, and why apologies can be powerful and life changing even after more than half a century between the actual ap...more
Lazare distinguishes between so-called "apologies" that are merely expressions of regret or empathy, apologies in the Greek sense that are simply explanations, and true apologies that involve the acceptance of responsibility. What Lazare calls "genuine apology" requires a person to "acknowledge the offense adequately," "express genuine remorse," and "offer appropriate reparations, including a commitment to make changes in the future." (p. 9) Lazare says that people can be motivated to apologize...more
Canadian Reader
While interesting in places, I frequently found the book tedious. It would have been satisfying to see some discussion of apology in more complex situations in which there are power differentials--e.g. between parents and children, teachers and students, supervisors and workers. I also noticed a lack of good discussion about situations in which one person has to deliver a painful truth to another, which the recipient perceives as "hurtful" or "offensive" and for which the latter expects an apolo...more
Thomas DeWolf
When my cousin Deb heard Aaron Lazare speak in Boston she bought his book after the lecture. She was really moved by what he said. My faith in her judgment led me to pick it up as well. I've never come across a book like this before; that covers the subject of "apology" from so many perspectives. It is part story-telling, part analysis, part history lesson. This book definitely informed my own work as I wrote "Inheriting the Trade" and will continue to inform my writing and my life. So often we...more
I read this book sometime ago. As a Christian and a Pastor this book offered some very profound insights into reconciling relationships. We are forever touching other peoples lives in ways that may not always be the most congenial and because of misunderstanding, anger. and even our inability to find the right words at the right time. People hurt other people, even those we never mean to hurt and understanding the dynamics of making apologies in our lives is a very important part of human intera...more
This is one of the FEW books that avoids biblical blathering and useless pop psychology.

It actually breaks down what makes apologies fail, and how to make apologies succeed. It allows the reader to analyze what's gone awry in broken situations, and possibly develop a plan of action to rectify.

i could have done w/o the parallel sections of public apologies. interesting, but most people read this because of broken relationships, is my guess.
If you want to know what a good apology is and why it is so important then this a book for you. I found it at the library. Among the many little nuggets that make it worth reading....."an apology that fails is potentially more destructive than no apology at all. With no apology, one can hope for a future apology, but with a failed apology, one often concludes that the matter is hopeless." (p. 73)
Written by a Harvard Medical School professor, this book is a suprisingly light book celebrating the difficult human notion of the apology. He writes with grace and a sincere committment to keeping peace with one another, of which one of the chief tools is the apology. Quick read, and full of sincerity. I had only wished it had a little more theoretical depth.
I didn't finish it, because I needed to bring it back to the library and just didn't have the time to devote to it. I wouldn't mind trying to read it again, but too much was going on for me, and it was written a bit like a textbook. Since I was interested in the subject, it didn't seem boring, and I think I could learn from it, but now's not the time.
I still use the precepts I learned from this book. A genuine apology offers explanation, a communication of remorse, and an offer of recompense. No "I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings!"
Maureen Flatley
An authentic and effective apology includes two components......the apologizer's authentic remorse and the willingness of the offended party to accept it.
Just finished this easy and thoughtful book about apologies. Why some work, why some don't, cultural differences.
This book will teach you the art on how to apologize and why it is neccessary.
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