Nassim Taleb Wisdom: When does an apology count?

Nassim Taleb Wisdom: When does an apology count? Taleb added an interesting tweet this morning about when does an apology count.

He suggested that there were three attributes of an apology

  • Voluntary
  • Spontaneous
  • Self Motivated

Apologies driven by fear (of reprisals/ loss) or self-interest (selfishness/ profit/ prevention of loss etc) don’t count

Taleb’s Previous Comments about what constitutes an Apology

Never apologize in words.

Apologies are always necessary and never sufficient.

There are two types of apologies. One by people relieving their conscience. The other is by those who are caught. Never trust those who apologize after being caught.

As a general rule, most “regrets” after one is caught aren’t regrets about having committed the action, but regrets about having been caught. Apologies count only when they are spontaneous, coming out of deep principles. Otherwise they are just an expression of submission

“When people makes public apologies and acts of contrition, they are mostly sorry that they were caught.”

Taleb Apology

Famous Apologies, Use NNT’s Criteria to see if the apologies count

“Indeed I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong … I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that.”Bill Clinton

“I have let my family down, and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect.”Tiger Woods

“I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law-enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge.”Mel Gibson

I can say that I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong because, even though he (Saddam) had used chemical weapons extensively against his own people, against others, the program in the form that we thought it was did not exist in the way that we thought” – Tony Blair

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PC: Nicolas Pujol

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