Sorry seems to be the hardest word (part II)*

Tomorrow's Business

Saying sorry shouldn’t be that difficult. Say it simply, no flowery words, look sincere. (That’s easier to carry off if you actually are sincere.)

Which makes me wonder why so many business people find it such a difficult task.

Today Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook’s CEO until it collapsed, was up before MPs who understandably wanted to harangue him for his failures and his bonuses.

Fankhauser said he had “worked tirelessly” for the company.

Now, hang on. Tirelessly means “with great effort or energy”. So he’s bragging in the midst of a supposed apology. He means he tried hard. Did his best. Whether he was “tireless” is really not for him to say.

There’s a pattern here. Neil Woodford said in September that he was “very sorry” for the pain caused to his investors, but not so sorry that he planned to resign. He might as well have done, to save himself the bother of being fired.

Back in July 2011, Rupert Murdoch appeared before MPs to answer questions about phone hacking. He opened by saying this was “the most humble day of my life.”

He meant “humbling”. Humble means “showing a modest estimate of one’s importance”.

We’ll decide that mate.

*You can read part April , from here.

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