Just as the punishment must fit the crime, the apology must equal (or fit) the offense.
But Is It Really An Apology?
A few years back I worked as an assistant director for a production studio in one of Nashville’s suburbs.
One day myself, the production supervisor, and the director (who was also the producer, and the writer, and the owner… I’d argue that this guy was a bit of a prima donna but my house is totally made of glass so…) were chatting about what was coming up next as the crew was preparing the set.
During the course of our conversation the production supervisor informed the director that she had let our DIT/Editor take the day off to celebrate her birthday with her fiancee (something that had been planned for months). This didn’t sit well with the director, who verbally tore her down, and threw her under the bus in front of everyone on the set. I won’t get into detail or language, suffice to say that it was pretty mean, and wholly unnecessary – paranoid and delusional, even.
Now, had the director not also been the producer and owner of this whole project, he and I would have had a little chat about that as I don’t allow that kind of thing on my set. Things, unfortunately, get a little convoluted when roles are distorted as they were. So I simply kept quiet and just stood by in case things got uglier.
Thankfully, they didn’t.
But that’s not the point of this story.
After things calmed down, the production supervisor left the set – practically in tears – and we all awkwardly finished the day.
A couple days later, as the production supervisor and I were talking over the phone about the next set of shoots, the subject of the director’s teardown came up. I noted that I probably should have interceded, and would still be willing to sit down and talk with the director about what he did, but the production supervisor said it was fine – the director had apologized.
“When?” I said. “I didn’t see that.”
“After the shoot in the studio,” was her response.
“Not on the set?”
I didn’t dig any deeper into that. The director had apologized, and though the production supervisor was willing to accept that, she didn’t sound like she really wanted to.
The reason for that was simple enough —
— It’s because it wasn’t a real apology.
Small Enough To Big Enough
Don’t get me wrong – an apology is at least something. And if someone is willing to apologize you shouldn’t make them jump through hoops (that may be another blog for another day).
But, just as the punishment must fit the crime, the apology must equal (or fit) the offense.
The reason that our production supervisor didn’t sound like she really wanted to accept the apology she had been given was because the apology didn’t equal or fit the offense. She was unnecessarily and unprofessionally torn down in front of everyone on the set.
Yet the apology was done in private.
For the apology to be equal to the offense, what the director should have done was gather everyone who was there when it happened (or as many of them as possible) and apologize to the production supervisor in front of them.
Anything less than that comes off as insincere. And in a situation like the above, one really needs to rise up to make it right.
Or, as I’d like to say, if you’re going to be small enough to cause that kind of problem, be big enough to fix it.
That should equal things out, and in the very least show that you mean it.
Big Mistake. Big Apology.
We all make mistakes. We all do stupid things (I’m practically the poster child), and we all most certainly have moments that show us at our worst. They happen. And sometimes it really hurts people when they do.
Does an apology fix everything? No, not always. Sometimes the situation calls for far more than that.
But you have to start somewhere. And an apology that meets or exceeds the weight of the offense is a good place to start.
Have you ever been in torn down in front of people like the production supervisor in the story above? What did the person do to fix it? Did they go big, or did they do what the director did? Did they do anything at all? Have you ever been the director in this story? How did you handle it? Share your thoughts and experiences below!
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