Posted in Communication, Crisis communication

What a Genuine Public Apology Looks like

The Rosetta probe scientist, Matt Taylor, ignited a controversy on the Internet when he appeared for an interview about his work wearing a shirt featuring sexualized images of women.  Like many others, I find his choice of shirt inexplicable. But what I want to highlight from this episode is the quality of the public apology he made:

“I made a big mistake, and I offended many people,” Taylor said at Friday’s media briefing, his voice trembling, “and I’m very sorry about this.” (Feltman, 2014)

I was struck by how Taylor took personal responsibility in his apology. This is not a characteristic of most public apologies. How many times have we seen some version of “If I have offended anyone, I am sorry,” or “I am sorry you feel that way“?

There are many lessons to be learned in this episode.  Matt Taylor is learning some lessons, no doubt. But he is also teaching a lesson in how to make a genuine apology, and for that, he has my respect.

Feltman, R. (2014, November 14). Scientist apologizes for his sexist shirt, but the Internet still wants women to shut up and die. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

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