Saying You’re Sorry
Clients who have been injured in an accident often express great frustration that the driver who caused their injury seems not to care about their pain and suffering. I explain that the other driver has a lawyer who has advised him not to apologize because his apology can be used against him as an admission that the accident was his fault. Unfortunately, it has become standard practice for defense lawyers to instruct their clients not to apologize — even in cases where it might make sense to do so.
Why might it make sense to apologize? Consider this: The Jury Research Kollection at www.kkcomcon.com recently reported on a Robbennolt research study about people’s attitudes toward those who apologize for their bad behavior versus those who do not. In cases where the defendant apologized for causing the other person’s injuries, people perceived the defendant more positively and felt less anger towards the defendant. This lessens the desire to punish the defendant for his bad behavior. Not surprisingly, the nature of the apology was critical: sincere, full apologies were the most effective.
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