Legislators in British Columbia proposed a law on Tuesday that would allow companies, government officials and individuals to apologize without making it an admission of liability. So if the law passes, people who make mistakes (you probably know a few) can apologize without fear that it will automatically be used against them as an admission of guilt.
That’s not to say that Canadian people or companies or government entities who commit wrongdoings out of negligence or malevolence won’t be held accountable. But for them and especially for those who genuinely just mess up or even cause danger or difficulty for others through no fault of their own, such a law would make it possible for them to do the right thing.
And doing the right thing makes all the difference to an organization’s reputation. While many organizations and executives who do admit fault and apologize for their transgressions are able to "move on," those who don’t tend to not only prolong, but exacerbate the problem. One needs only to think about Watergate and President Nixon’s inability to apologize for what he himself called a second-rate burglary to remember how important the words, "I’m sorry" can be.
Think about the times you’ve been mad at a spouse or friend, or someone in the public eye for their actions. But when they apologize, the anger pretty much passes. It’s ridiculously simple really. So why shouldn’t we allow it here for our companies, public figures and government? Truth be told, I can’t imagine our legislature or Administration contemplating such a law. Most of them consider themselves infallible, so an apology law would probably seem extraneous to them. Besides, the trial attorney lobby would go into a frenzy.
Still, I applaud the BC legislature for its practicality and common sense, and truly hope that the legislation passes. Maybe some of our nearby states will take notice and consider similar laws. Our government, public figures and corporations — along with the rest of us — can only benefit.
Hat tip to Ann Barlow for sharing this.