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The Lazy and People Who Never Apologize Are Happier


RUSH: And now to these two stories that I have been holding the past couple days that I promised.  Here's the first one.  It's from SmithsonianMag.com.  People who never apologize are happier, and here's how this story begins. 

"Remember the intense, seemingly physical pain you felt as a kid when an adult told you to say you were sorry? Maybe you kicked Jimmy in the shins, took something you weren’t supposed to or were just generally being a brat. But the worst part about this whole experience wasn’t getting into trouble or getting dessert taken away, it was actually having to apologize. And that distaste for saying you’re sorry hasn’t gone away as an adult either: not apologizing still makes us feel much better than apologizing does.

"Psychologists tend to be interested in these sorts of seemingly universal feelings, and recently a few researchers looked into just why it is so rewarding to avoid saying sorry. They asked people to recall transgressions -- some as small as cutting someone off on the road, some as big as stealing -- then asked these study participants if they had apologized or not and how they felt. The last step: participants could compose an email either apologizing or refusing to apologize. If you’re a parent, you’ve probably told your kid that apologizing will make you feel better."

If you're a parent you probably said, "Now, you say you're sorry. Saying you're sorry will remove the tensions and it will put the incident behind both of you and then you can move on, and everybody will be able to forget it."  This is what parents tell their kids.  "But what these researchers found is, in fact, the opposite. The email that refused to apologize made people feel much better than the one confessing to the deed and taking the blame."

One of the researchers, Tyler Okimoto, explained his interpretation of the results this way:  "When you refuse to apologize, it actually makes you feel more empowered."  When you refuse to apologize, it makes you feel more in control of yourself.  It makes you feel more dominant.  It makes you feel less subservient.  It makes you feel not guilty.  The power and the control seems to translate into greater feelings of self-worth.  You can actually think you're a better person if you do not apologize. 

"Ironically, Okimoto said, people who refused to apologize ended up with boosted feelings of integrity. So the next time you tell your kids that apologizing will make them feel better in the long run, you might be lying to them."  Now, what do you think of this?  Modern day psychobabble?  As a professional broadcaster I can tell you that over the course of my career, there is an adage, "I don't care what you do, don't ever apologize, never. You don't apologize, I don't care what it is."  Now, this is advice that's given to people in the public arena.  Don't ever do it.  And I must tell you, my instincts are to never apologize. 

Now, there are days, folks, where I go home very unhappy with that day's program, and I feel guilty that I did not give it my best, and so I do come in here and I will apologize for my poor performance the previous day.  But that's not really an apology for committing an egregious act.  It's just basically saying, "You know, I know that you deserve better. I shoulda done better. You've got high expectations of this program and I didn't deliver 'em yesterday."  But in the realm of where there are actual transgressions that have taken place, this research says the people who feel more empowered and of higher integrity, self-worth, are the people that never apologize.


RUSH: The second part of that story on people who never apologize are happier, is a Wall Street Journal story by Lauren Weber. "Bad at Their Jobs, and Loving It -- A company's best employees should also be its happiest and most engaged, but that's not always the case. A new study finds that, in 42% of companies, low performers actually report being more -- more motivated and more likely to enjoy working at their organization, for example -- than middle and high performers do." So here's a low performer, low-information, low-motivation person. They don't care as much. So they're more engaged; they're more motivated. I don't see how those two go together, but that's what this says.

Middle-level performers, high performers don't enjoy it as much. There's more stress, is what they're saying. "The findings suggest many organizations are not holding employees accountable for their work, allowing the worst workers to skate by, says Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, the Atlanta-based consulting firm that conducted the survey. 'Low performers often end up with the easiest jobs because managers don't ask much of them,' he said, so they're under less stress and they're more satisfied with their daily work lives." Now, that does make perfect sense, and who could they possibly be talking about there? Is there a type of worker, or a line of work, that immediately comes to mind when I describe all those circumstances? Yes, there is to me, too.

Okay, we're gonna go to the phones. We're gonna start Indianapolis and Amy. I'm so glad that you called. Great to have you on the program. Hi.

CALLER: Hi. I can't believe I'm talking to Rush Limbaugh. Hey, I wanted to tell you that I was a public school teacher once upon a time, a long time ago, and I had a baby at home. I was pregnant with my second child, and I remember talking to the educational psychologist there and telling them that my husband and I had plans to teach our children the proper way to apologize to one another. And do you know what they told me? They told me that that was psychologically damaging to my children, that I should not teach my children to apologize to one another. It was too difficult for them to do, and it wasn't healthy. And you know what? After 16 years, I now have eight children. We now homeschool our children. I've gotta tell you that that is a bunch of rubbish. It is so important that we teach our children how to apologize to one another and to apologize to each other. Our kids aren't gonna want to feel good about not apologizing.

RUSH: Well, now, wait. Why is that important about it to you?

CALLER: It's not a matter of feeling. It doesn't matter if the kids feel better or worse. It's a matter that they take responsibility for their action, and also apologizing is not about how you feel if you did something wrong. It's not to make you feel better. It's to make the person you did something wrong to feel better and it's to put it right. We don't tell our kids just to apologize, by the way. They have to --

RUSH: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.


RUSH: Are you maintaining that apologizing is not to make you feel better?

CALLER: If I apologize, it doesn't have to make me feel better. I'm the one who did something wrong. If I did something wrong, I need to go and apologize to the person I did something to and then ask for their forgiveness.

RUSH: What if you didn't do anything wrong and somebody is still demanding that you apologize just to get the issue behind everybody?

CALLER: Well, I don't know about that. (laughing) You're saying that if I didn't do anything wrong --

RUSH: I hate to tell you, but I don't doubt that that happens every day in school after school after school. I have no doubt that a teacher would look to the weakest in the confrontation and say, "Just apologize. Just apologize and be done with it and move on."

CALLER: Well, no then, because justice isn't being served. If that's the case, if the teacher is bullying a student saying that the student has to apologize for something the student didn't do, well, of course that student's not gonna feel better because he said he's sorry when he didn't do anything wrong in the first place.

RUSH: According to who? See, you believe there's an absolute truth and falsehood in every element of the story or an occurrence, and we're dealing with people that don't believe that at all. Everything's relative. But theoretically, it's fascinating. You do believe that apologizing, when justified, is the right thing to do.

CALLER: Absolutely it's the right thing -- and not only apologize, but asking for forgiveness after that.

RUSH: Ah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, this survey says people that do that end up not liking themselves very much.


Barb in Minneapolis. Glad you waited. Great to have you on the EIB Network. Hi.

CALLER: Hi, Rush. Thank you for taking my call. My little boy was diagnosed with leukemia at age three. He died just before his sixth birthday.

RUSH: Oh, jeez.

CALLER: During that time, I was going through a very nasty divorce. Things got pretty ugly, and to this day, 22 years later, I still remember what a nurse told me. She said, "There is a difference between feeling guilty and feeling shamed. When you feel guilty, you can apologize, and you can say you're sorry. When you feel shameful, when you're shamed, you cannot say you're sorry -- and chances are likely that you will never hear an apology." Twenty years later I remember that, and I think of that so often because it seems that I'm seeing that so many times every day in my life. People cannot say they are sorry.

RUSH: Well, and now they're being told that's good. "Don't say you're sorry! You'll feel worse if you do. You will feel more empowered if you don't." Now, folks, I must tell you: This is the second call on this. If you could see my e-mail in box on this, this story I have been teasing for three days... I really didn't think it was that big a deal. It was more an interesting sort of human interest, throwaway thing. "Hey, look at this stupid story. They got a bunch of people out here with a survey that says never apologizing is the way to really love yourself. That's the way to have self-esteem," and I've been setting it aside.

I finally got around to doing it today and my e-mail in box is overflowing with people who want to weigh in on this. That was the second call in a row that we've had on this. One of the themes running through my e-mail is the notion of penance, and penitence. Of course there is a biblical, Bible-thumping component to forgiveness, but science is now even trying to pervert that. (laughing) (You Bible thumpers know what's going on.) Anyway, there are tons of e-mails about this, and the vast majority of 'em I've have had time to scan, overwhelming the people writing them think this story that says don't apologize is all wrong.

"Don't ever apologize! If you apologize you're weak. If you don't apologize, you're strong. You maintain your dignity. You maintain your self-respect. The minute you start apologizing you feel weak, you feel manipulated, put upon and all that." The survey says it's much better if we don't. "We don't want people feeling that way! We want people feeling empowered. We want people feeling good about themselves. So don't apologize." I can't tell you attention this is getting in my e-mail. Every once in a while this happens. We have a little subject that we think is a throwaway that just erupts out there. 


RUSH: By the way, we've got an oncologist on hold from Dallas who says that I am dead wrong and that the Washington Post is dead right and that there are severe reimbursement cuts for cancer patients.  So in the break I've been looking into this. I think I may understand what's going on.  I apologize if I don't, but we'll find out here in due course. 

John in Dover, Delaware.  I'm glad you waited.  Great to have you on the program.  Hi.

CALLER:  Rush, thanks for taking my call, great show, long-time Dittohead, first-time caller.

RUSH:  Thank you, sir.

CALLER:  Absolutely, honest mistakes do happen every day, and most successful businessmen know that apologizing for these honest mistakes is a successful business strategy.  There is an axiom that said it's better --

RUSH:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  See?  Strategy.  And strategy means insincere.

CALLER:  Correct.  Absolutely correct.  It brings to mind an old friend of mine who got into trouble on a construction project.  On a major construction project while buildings were being demolished one concerned citizen petitioned a local historical society to let them know that one of the dilapidated buildings was actually the home of a long forgotten city father.  The construction project was in danger of being held up. I mentioned to my friend that, yes, a lot of times it's easier to beg forgiveness than to beg permission and the next morning the building in question had been accidentally demolished.

RUSH:  Now, that's an interesting theory, and I happen to subscribe to it.  Better to ask forgiveness than permission.


RUSH:  Just go ahead and do it, and then say, "Oh, gee, I'm sorry." Rather than ask and be told no.

CALLER:  Absolutely.

RUSH:  Yeah.

CALLER:  So being able to apologize for such honest mistakes is --

RUSH:  Yeah, but you're talking about a strategy.  You're not talking about something that you really mean from the heart.

CALLER:  Well, sometimes when you're trying to make progress, you do actually make some honest mistakes.

RUSH:  You mean profit, don't you?  You mean profit?  That's what you mean by progress, right?  I'm just trying to hear this as a low-information voter would hear it.

CALLER:  Exactly.

RUSH:  Yeah, right.

CALLER:  But a lot of times in the zeal to advance your company's interests and your own interests, mistakes do happen.

RUSH:  Yeah.

CALLER:  The best course in that situation is to apologize and beg forgiveness and move on.

RUSH:  I tell you, John, I appreciate the call.



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