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Thought Leadership

When Is An Apology NOT An Apology? New Lessons From Abercrombie & Fitch

Leadership, "Reputation Matters" Forbes, May 17, 2013

You know when your spouse does something really bad, and knows he or she needs to apologize, but doesn't really want to? And you know how the way he puts it is often something like: "Oh, dear, I'm so sorry that you feel that way" or "it's too bad that you have gotten so upset"? And you know how you feel after he says it – even angrier still.

An apology that is not an apology is enraging. It takes no responsibility for the action that prompted the apology. It has no sense of mea culpa, or remorse, but rather seems to transfer the blame to you – sorry YOU got upset, not sorry that I did something to upset you. In a marriage, too many of those, and you are headed to divorce court. In a friendship, that way lays "unfriending."

And so, here we go again. Given the groundswell of anger that has escalated since my last column on Abercrombie & Fitch on Monday the 13th , and the rebirth of its CEO's incendiary comments in an interview in Salon 7 years ago on not wanting the un-thin, the un-young, or the un-beautiful to wear A&F clothes, finally the company realized that they had to do something. [...read more]

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