Friday, 5 March 2010


Nopology is a word I coined today to describe the public apologies which are frequent in these United States and in the United Kingdom.

They are written in that well known but esoteric language known as bureaucratese”. In the world of nopologies the word “wrong” is never used.

Here are two examples from the United Kingdom.

1. A spokesman for WH Smith said: “Customer safety is of paramount importance to us. 

“To that end we insist our staff complete regular training updates to remind them of their obligations both legally and in accordance with our own policies. 

“On this occasion a staff member may have been a little overzealous in their interpretation of that training and we apologise for any inconvenience or embarrassment that may have been caused.” 

That nopology referred to the actions of a W.H.Smith  “staff member”  [in the old days known as a shop assistant (U.K.) or a shop clerk (U.S.A.)]. 

A mother and her three year old daughter took a pair of children’s plastic scissors from the rack, but the child carried then and placed them in the counter. The “staff member” refused to sell the scissors because the child had carried them, which meant that the mother could not be trusted to supervise the little girl as she used the scissors at home. (The packing was marked “3 years old and up”).

2.Ron Odunaiya, Executive Director of City Services (Sunderland U.K.)   said: "We regret that on this occasion a decision was taken not to display the poster and we fully accept that the poster would not have caused any concern to other individuals. 

"We will be reviewing our guidelines to ensure this situation is not repeated. Sunderland Public Libraries would be happy to display the poster at any of its service points as space permits. We apologise for any upset that this decision may have caused the customer." 

This story was about the refusal of a Sunderland librarian to display a poster advertising the “Women’s World Day of Prayer” (an ecumenical and international event for christian women). The poster simply announced the event. It could not in any way be construed as proselytizing, or as offensive to non-Christians. 

Note that in Mr. Odunaiya’s world there are no longer “libraries” but “service points”.


jmp says:

Those who truly apologize for word or action, silence or inaction say “I was wrong, and I am sorry”. They do not ask for forgiveness. 

The act of forgiving is the free gift of the one who was wronged.

It should never depend upon the request of the person who apologizes.


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