Over the weekend a bit of a hullabaloo broke out when a 2-day old tweet from Nicky Wagner, the Minister for Disability Issues, showed some ... you might say flippancy, towards her portfolio and the issues within.
Unsurprisingly, people didn't take this well. And fair enough. The Minister was meeting with people from the disabled community and here she was saying she wishes she wasn't and would rather be out on the harbour. Stuff your issues!
People rightfully got angry, the media found the story so they wrote it up, and then the inevitable apology came.
Terrible apology. Here's why:
"I apologise for any offence I have caused" means I'm not sorry for my words or actions, but rather I'm sorry for how YOU reacted to it. The Minister's sorry because her intention wasn't to offend. So therefore everything is rosy! Except it's not, because your intention to offend or otherwise doesn't change the fact that you offended people.
So a simple reword might be "I'm sorry I offended people". That changes the onus from you and your feelings to the Minister and her words. However in reality that's not a great apology either because again you're still not sorry for what you said, rather your sorry for the impact of what you said.
If you really want to get your apology right you need to own your actions. So something better might be:
"What I said was thoughtless and people have every right to be offended. I shouldn't have said it and I'm sorry. I take my portfolios very seriously but this sort of flippancy gives people the impression I don't."
That's an apology.
However the final caveat in all this is you should actually be sorry. If you're going to apologise, mean it. Otherwise you're just being disingenuous. We would never help a client who just wanted to use an apology to make a problem go away.