The Complete and Convincing Apology
Many apologies fall short on the sincerity scale. They also are typically incomplete. That wasn’t the case for the Ebola-related apology by Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s chief medical editor.
Snyderman is regularly featured on NBC’s Today and Nightly News shows. She comes across as knowledgeable, articulate and authoritative. Her opinions, as a result, carry some weight with viewers.
The apology followed her coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which ended when freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo contracted the deadly virus. Snyderman and her team returned to the United States and submitted to a voluntary 21-day self-quarantine.
However, within days, Snyderman was spotted walking outside her house. That prompted New Jersey health officials to press for mandatory quarantines.
She apologized, saying, “I stepped outside the boundaries of what I promised to do and what the public expected of me. And for that, I’m sorry.”
In addition to apologizing for her misstep, Snyderman expressed regret for the controversy it generated.
“When I came back from Liberia with my team,” Snyderman told NBC Today show co-host Matt Lauer, “we had already been taking our temperatures four, five six times a day, and we knew our risks in our heads — but didn’t really appreciate, and frankly, we were not sensitive to, how absolutely frightened Americans were.”
“The completeness of Snyderman’s apology is what sets it apart from too many public apologies. She owned what she did, as well as the repercussions caused by what she did.”
She acknowledged her actions undermined the credibility of her own reporting on Ebola, as well as the importance of quarantines to protect public health.
To complete her apology, Snyderman expressed regret her actions and the controversy that result became a distraction that diverted public attention from the actual Ebola crisis in West Africa.
The completeness of Snyderman’s apology is what sets it apart from too many public apologies. She owned what she did, as well as the repercussions caused by what she did. Many public apologies barely own what they did and rarely acknowledge the grief their bad actions caused.
Snyderman’s complete apology showed the strength of character she evinces when she talks. She proved her own words, “Good people can make mistakes.” Good people who make complete and convincing apologies usually get a second chance.