My last post recalled Wesley making a half-hearted attempt at an apology to Jenny. It falls flat because he blames another person and outside circumstances for his action.
Today let’s look at what a real apology looks like and 8 factors that make an apology real and sincere.
For the majority of the movie, Forrest sits on the bench and reveals his life story to us viewers from his conversations with strangers on the park bench, a series of flashbacks, and narrations. The movie’s action only moves into real time towards the very end when Forrest leaps off the bench and runs down to Jenny’s apartment.
Upon entering the apartment there is an initial joy and then some cautious small talk about the messy apartment, air conditioning, the exchange of chocolates (Forrest ‘ate some’), and finally viewing the scrapbook Jenny kept of Forrest’s run. Those initial reunion moments are pregnant with unspoken feelings.
Jenny then does something remarkable that erases all the uncertainty and awkwardness of the moment … and it allows both of their past pains to instantly disappear. She says, “Forrest. I don’t know how to say this. Um, I just… I want to apologize for anything that I ever did to you, ’cause I was messed up … for a long time, and … “ A knock on the door interrupts that moment as Jenny’s friend Lynn Marie drops off Little Forrest.
Now that is how you give an apology. Jenny got her apology right. Wesley’s missed the mark.
According to Perfect Apology, a proper apology includes the following 8 components.
Here are 8 elements that will make your apologies heartfelt and hit the mark:
1. A Detailed Account of the Situation
Jenny does not get into the details. We know the details from earlier scenes. Forrest knew the details. One can imagine that much more was forthcoming from Jenny before the knock on the door interrupted the moment.
2. Acknowledgement of the Hurt or Damage Done
Jenny speaks directly to Forrest and his hurt when she says, “I want to apologize for anything that I ever did to you.” That is direct.
3. Taking Responsibility for the Situation
She takes 100% responsibility when she says, “I was messed up … for a long time.” No blame.
4. Recognition of Your Role in the Event
Again she said, “I was messed up … for a long time.” Jenny didn’t blame her father, the hippies, her past boyfriends, the drugs, or even Forrest himself;
5. A Statement of Regret
Jenny never specifically states regret but for the viewer her tone, posture and words seem sincere, heartfelt and filled with regret.
6. Asking for Forgiveness
While the question “Will you forgive me?” is not asked, we the viewer do get the sense that more was coming before the interruption. And who is a more generous and forgiving person than Forrest himself?
7. A Promise That It Won’t Happen Again
No specific promise was made in this short apology. Jenny’s promise when she married Forrest and the promise shown by her future actions were more than sufficient to make the apology sincere. In most apologies a promise is only as good as the future actions that back it up.
8. A Form of Restitution Whenever Possible
The restitution Jenny gives is in returning Forrest’s love, giving him a life with his son, and moving back to his Greenbow home for her dying days.
In the movie the time and dialogue to fulfill all 8 steps of a perfect apology was not utilized, but the viewer perceived Jenny’s sincerity. She knew she needed help and she surrendered to the man whose love was lifelong, enduring, and unconditional.
Jenny’s simple heartfelt apology gave closure to the past and created a space for mutual love to blossom and grow.
Why is it so hard to apologize? Why is it even harder to apologize to the one’s we love?
Next Blog Title: The Political Economy of Privatization
Next Blog Date: December 9, 2010