Tag Archives: Barton Swaim

Apologia: Can You Speak in Defense of Yourself?

SorryAboutThatCoverAt the August 1 First Friday Business Book Synopsis in Dallas, I will present the hot best-seller by Edwin L. Battistella entitled Sorry About That (Oxford University Press, 2014), followed by a bonus program designed to help us do that better,.

Who is Edwin Battistella?

Edwin Battistella teaches linguistics and writing at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, where he has served as a Dean and as Interim Provost.  Sorry About That is his fourth book, all of which have been published by Oxford University Press.  He also wrote Do You Make These Mistakes in English? (2009), Bad Language (2005), and The Logic of Markedness (1996).  EdwinBattistella

Why is this book worth our time?

We all need to learn how to apologize better.  As you read this, how many times today did you say or hear, “sorry,” “sorry about that,” “I’m sorry,” “so sorry,” or other variants on the theme?  And, were you or the other really sorry?  If you were, did you sound as if you were?  Have we said those words so many times that we have forgotten how to say them when we genuinely mean it?

We need to SOUND as sincere as our meaning.  First, however, we need to know how to give a genuine and sincere apology.  I have no interest in helping anyone sound genuinely sorry who is not actually so.  I like to help people who are genuinely sorry sound genuinely so.

In this book, Battistella analyzes the apologies given by of politicians, entertainers, business executives, and others, in order to show how the language we use creates sincere or insincere apologies.  Early reviews suggest that this book is effective in connecting actual apologies with the larger social, ethical, and linguistic principles which underlie them.  For a complete review of the book written by Barton Swaim, published in the Wall Street Journal on June 17, 2014, click here.

Particularly impactful to me is the idea that when we avoid naming the cause behind our apology, we sound insincere and inauthentic.  This is just one of several items in the book that may be news to you.

This book reminds me of two other good works about apologia.  One is from Ken Blanchard’s One Minute Manager series, entitled The One Minute Apology:  A Powerful Way to Make Things Better, co-authored with Margaret McBride (William Morrow, 2003).  Another was a more academic piece by B.L. Ware and Wil Linkugel that you can read by clicking here that develops four strategies for defending yourself.

This is quite a book.  We can all benefit from it.

I look forward to talking about with you in August.