Why It Might Be Helpful to Apologize for Something That’s Not Your Fault

An apology for something beyond anyone’s control, such as the weather, has the effect of making others trust the apologizer, says a team led by Alison Wood Brooks of Harvard Business School. For example, when a young man approached strangers in a train station on a rainy day and said, “I’m so sorry about the rain! Can I borrow your phone?” he was successful 47% of the time, compared with just 9% if he simply asked to borrow a phone. Past studies have shown that when culpability for negative situations is ambiguous, people reward those who take blame more than those who express remorse.

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SOURCE: I’m Sorry About the Rain!: Superfluous Apologies Demonstrate Empathic Concern and Increase Trust

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