The power of a sincere apology. Researchers will have to investigate the voodoo of this phenomenon. Obviously, it works.
Actor James Wood was involved in a bitter lawsuit against Kent Hospital in Warwick, Rhode Island concerning his brother Michael's death there in 2006. Michael died in the emergency room of a heart attack. The family claimed negligence.
Then, last Monday, Kent Hospital President Sandra L. Coletta had dinner with the actor. She, reports John Hill in THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, simply apologized to James. The trial was in its fourth week in Kent County Superior Court.
Less than 24 hours later, says Hill, the suit was dropped. The Wood family created the Michael J. Woods Institute. The mission of that Institute is to reorganize hospital services to better serve patients.
Yes, heartfelt apologies reduce malpractice lawsuits. The strategy is informally known as "Sorry Works."
It's a fundamental in public relations to ask ourselves: What does the opposition really want? If it won't let up or escalates in its voicing of grievances, it usually means it is holding out for something. Often that something, I have found, is a simple apology. On "The Good Wife" the widows of railroad workers killed in an accident wanted that more than a monetary award.
Of course, those facing the hostile forces complain: What they contend is not the truth. But, is there such an entity as "truth." There are facts. However, can they add up to a "truth." I sat for four months is a Providence, RI Superior Court courtroom live-blogging the lead paint trial. I heard facts. Those are called evidence. The truth?
The increasingly sought after for guidance Buddhist nun Pema Chodron says in her book "The Wisdom of No Escape" that there is "No such thing as a true story." In public relations, we tell our clients the same thing, only we frame it as "perception" and explain its subjective reality, at least to all the constituencies involved.
In this season of the joy of embracing what is good in life and hope for the future, I ask myself what I want from those which I perceive treated me in an unkind manner. [Charles Dickens used that term "kind" to describe the human heart.] They are mostly institutions.
They probably include higher education, such as I perceived it delivered by my alma mater Seton Hill. Despite my accomplishments, against such great odds, my perception was that the Seton Hill treated me with unkindness, even when I had created a scholarship there. That's my truth.
Those institutions also include the mental-health establishment. A professional on its front lines Dr. David W. Harder, now a full professor at Tufts University, attempted to assist me through the University of Michigan facilities and later through his private practice. I did not and do not perceive that as having been helpful enough or kind. That's my truth.
You bet, I want an apology. Actually, I need one to move on. I thought that my first novel "The Fat Guy From Greenwich" closed those doors. Seemed it didn't. Healing also has its own voodoo.