50 Shades of “I’m Sorry”: a Breakdown of the Apology

As those of you know who have been reading my blog for some time, I’m a fan of dissecting an apology.

Over the last few years, I’ve looked at the Lululemon apology, the Kanye West apology, and Tiger Woods’ and Eliot Spitzer’s apologies.

This week it was Donald Trump’s turn to apologize. If you haven’t had a chance to see the video or read the transcript, they can be found here.

What was more interesting to me was the breakdown of the apology that was done by Leah McElrath (@leahmcelrath ) a communications consultant from Texas who provided a 15-point response to the apology via Twitter that I found thought provoking enough that I have included it, below:
Trump’s statement is an eerie replica of psychological manipulations made by abusers after episodes of abuse. Let’s break it down.

  1. “I’m not perfect” = you’re expectations I behave like a human being are unreasonable
  2. “I’ve never pretended to be someone I’m not” = you fell in love with me so it’s your fault
  3. “this more than decade old video” = it was a long time ago, why the fuss? you’re so unreasonable
  4. “these words do not reflect who I am” = the reality you just experienced didn’t actually happen (gaslighting)
  5. “I said it…I apologize” = get over it already, I *said* I’m sorry, you’re being hysterical
  6. “I’ve…my…me…I…I’ve…me…I…I…” = it’s all about me; your needs, feelings, existence don’t matter
  7. “grieving mothers…laid off workers…” = what are you complaining about? you have it good compared to others
  8. “I pledge to be a better man tomorrow & will never let you down” = I’m sorry I hit you, it’ll never happen again
  9. “Let’s be honest” = you’re not being honest
  10. “We’re living in the real world” = I’m sane and you’re crazy
  11. “This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues” = see what you did?! this is all your fault!
  12. “we are less safe…Hillary…” = if you only held up your end of the relationship, I wouldn’t have to hurt you
  13. “I’ve said some foolish things, but…” = you’re being hysterical over nothing again, you’re so crazy
  14. “actually abused” = the abuse you experienced wasn’t *really* abuse
  15. “We will discuss this more…See you…on Sunday” = I’m in control here, not you.

Regardless of how you plan to cast your vote in November, it’s my hope that—having read the above– we can all agree that Mr. Trump’s apology leaves something to be desired.