Tag Archives: Edwin Battistella

Another Sample Business Question and Answer from Our Upcoming Book

Last week, I posted a sample page from our upcoming book, entitled Answers to 100 Best Business Questions from 100 Best-Selling Business Books

Randy Mayeux and I are really excited about our the book, which attempts to answer questions that our clients have in areas such as customer service, management, leadership, teamwork, communication skills, and strategy.   The answers come from books that we have presented over the years at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  Each question and answer fits on exactly one page.

Here is another sample for you to read, that asks a new question, and gives a new answer.

How can I apologize to someone in an effective way?

Battistella, Edwin.  (2014).  Sorry about that:  The language of public apology.  New York:  Oxford University Press.

Many of us say “I’m sorry” or “Sorry!” every day.  But, very few us really get that message across in a meaningful way.  In this book, Edwin Battistella gives practical advice for giving a proper apology.  Here are three quotes from the book:

Saying ‘I’m sorry’ is different from saying ‘I apologize.’  The former reports on an internal state of the speaker but does not literally perform an apology….By itself,  the minimal report ‘I’m sorry’..or, the simple ‘Sorry’…doesn’t tell us much”  (p. 58).

Regret…also reports an speaker’s internal state….regret in ways that merely report on situations without assuming agency for them….a speaker [can] regret a situation but not assume responsibility for it” (p. 61).

Sorry is too personal for some professional and business exchanges, while regret is usually too impersonal and detached for condolences” (p. 62).

So, what does it take for an apology to be effective and succeed?  There are two parts:  ethically – by admitting moral wrongdoing and expressing regret, and socially – by making amends with the offended party. Apologies can fail on either count too, and key to the outcome is the language the apologizer uses.

And finally, consider this:  “The expressions ‘I was wrong’ and ‘Forgive me’ are also sometimes taken to imply apologies.  ‘I was wrong’ concedes error.  ‘Forgive me’ asks for reconciliation.  To conversationally cooperative listeners, either can imply the full apology process….When we shortcut a full apology by merely saying ‘I was wrong,’ we are relying on the naming of the offense to perform the work of the apology without the sorry-saying.  And when we shortcut a full apology with ‘Forgive me,’ we are jumping directly to the response step of the process” (p. 65).

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.