How Often Do You Apologize?
We were recently contacted regarding our take on a poll that was conducted in
the US. The survey was commissioned by a jewelry company who found that a
substantial portion of their customer base purchased jewelry as a way of saying
7,590 Americans were interviewed on a range of questions about apologizing.
According to the poll, there appears to be a correlation between how frequently
we say sorry and our marital status or income leveldata that would be
relevant to a jewelry company looking to leverage that particular
Two of the more interesting findings were:
- Married people extend apologies more
readily, and almost twice as often as single and divorced people.
- The more you earn, the more you apologize and vice-versa.
The more you apologize, the more you earn.
So we asked our resident expert Peter F. Goolpacy to comment on
the jewelry company's findings and perhaps offer some form of explanation.
Although he did not have access to the survey questions and raw data for
each category of questions, he was able to offer some preliminary
interpretations of the data.
With respect to married couples, Peter says, there are a few explanations
that we believe are entirely consistent with what we would expect from
people in these situations.
Married couples have a far more significant
personal commitment to maintaining a healthy relationship. For one thing
they share the burden of spending much more time together and are more
likely to be affected by the unpleasant circumstances surrounding an
Married couples are also more likely to have children (we suspect a larger
portion of the "married" sample fits this category), so there are added
motivations for resolving fights and saying sorry for the benefit of the kids.
Thirdly, married couples have come to learn, by experience, more effective
conflict management practices, many of which involve some form of apology.
With respect to wealth, Peter believes that there are two possible
interpretations. The first being that wealthy people are more likely to
apologize is in part explained by their status and education, which infer a
set of social skills that explain their propensity to accept responsibility
and therefore apologize more often. On the other hand, he offers another
more-cynical explanation based on another set of pressuresif arguments
get out of control they can lead to very expensive divorces. All of us here
at PA are more persuaded by the first explanation.
The reverse correlation, that people who apologize tend to be wealthier, can
be explained with reference to our research on
business apologies. For many
reasons covered on this site, business apologies work and typically lead to
satisfied customers and better, more successful business practices. It would
logically follow that successful businessmen and women are more likely to
emulate many of the same principles and behavior in their personal life.
We've also discovered that these "apology" principles also apply in the
medical profession following malpractice cases.
From the findings of a simple survey commissioned by a jewelry company to
I'm Sorry laws that are gaining momentum
within the medical community, we learn
that extending a proper apology is simply a best-practice for a happy life and
successful relationships. So whether you're single or married, rich or
.And for those of you out there with a couple of bucks to
spare, do as thousands of others have done, go to Reeds.com and include that piece of
jewelry—apparently adding this particular special touch has a magical effect on
Read about other
ways to apologize.
Or, return to