No one likes a smart-ass (10021) wrote in mister_manners,
No one likes a smart-ass

Are apologies to be automatically accepted?

Dear Mr. Manners,

I've recently been the victim of some unpleasantness at work. Some co-workers made false accusations behind my back, which got back to me via my manager. Apart from the sting of hurt feelings, this potentially could have been career-limiting. Fortunately for me, other co-workers were there and made sure to let my manager know the truth. I'm not certain, but there's a distinct possibility that these offenders will be directed to apologize to me.

I know that as regards my career in this company, I need to verbally accept any apology that they might proffer. However, knowing that it's not sincere, I have trouble accepting the apology it in my heart. Please give me some guidance on how to handle the situation gracefully.


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Refined Reader:

Mr. Manners sympathizes with your plight. Working with vile, back-stabbing vermin is never pleasant. At least you know that you also work with people who are kind enough to protect your virtue in the face of these untruths.

As you have ascertained, for the sake of professionalism, the apology, if proffered, must be accepted. However, it can be politely accepted in the same spirit that it is offered – with obvious insincerity. A cold smile and a terse, “Of course. Let us speak of it no more,” is all that is necessary, and will convey both your obvious distaste with the situation and your superior civility.

However, another avenue may also exist for you to remedy the situation without having to accept a blatantly false apology. Simply take your manager aside and ask them to please let the matter drop ‘in the interest of workplace harmony’. This tack has many advantages: it will relieve your manager from the distasteful process of forcing the instigator to apologize; it allows you to show that you are the ‘bigger person’ and that you have the best interests of the company at heart; it allows the disreputable employee time to gather more rope and hopefully administer a self-inflicted coup de grâce whilst thinking themselves off the hook.

Whichever course you finally take, please, at all costs, refrain from attempting to extract a similar revenge. Speaking badly of the co-worker in question, whilst giving satisfaction, will do naught but allow you to share the same bad light as the vermin. Mr. Manners suggests instead that you speak badly of them in your Journal, where we can all enjoy your grandiloquence.
Mr. Manners, thank you so much for your advice. I will be seeing these folks tomorrow and will ask my manager to let the matter drop. You're a genius!
Superb advice!

It not only dispenses with the sticky situation of a graceless apology, but gains favour with the boss in a way that's perfectly legitimate, since the situation was engineered by other idiots.