How to Apologise

“Say sorry!”

My small section of the internet is getting a little hotter these days; games journalism has always had its corrupt elements, but the combination of low-level “broken window” freebies corruption and the rarer (because of the expense) top-end “bought editorial” corruption, means that more and more well-meaning journalists are having to learn how to do something they’ve not done since they were little kids; say sorry.

Now, me, I fuck up regularly. I fucked up when I blogged about my magazine without realising my editor was reading it. I fucked up last week by not checking an article on an old game called Doom enough, and so incurred the wrath of the section of the internet that loves that game, egged on by one of the programmers, John Romero. I looked at what I’d done, corrected it, and apologised fulsomely to the developer. I still feel crapper than an English toilet about it, but hopefully I’ll learn from that.

So, girls and boys, here’s a quick step-by-step guide to saying the hardest word of all.

  1. Look at your critic’s arguments. Don’t reject them out of hand. There may be a kernel of truth in what they say. It may be you’ve gone down a path you never thought you’d take, or drifted away from the moral person you wanted to be – but it’s sometimes hard to see when you’re angry or upset. Get calm and understand why they’re saying what they’re saying.
  2. If you still can’t get perspective, find a Teller of Truth. These are damn hard to find. You want a person who will say what they think no matter what. I typically recommend Slaktus for this because he’s intellectually superior, totally without empathy and mouthy. Ask him what he thinks and he won’t pull any punches.
  3. Apologise directly to the person who’s complaining. If they’ve opened your eyes to your flaws, say that. Do it in person if possible and in public if possible. You want everyone to know you accept the criticism, you want to drive that learning and apology into your mind, to feel it.
  4. Do penance. Not in the religious sense, but in the sense of fixing those wrongs. Focus on where you screwed up. Can you improve that area of your life? What changes are you going to make? How can you avoid it happening again?
  5. Try not to do it again. You probably will – if you’re the sort of person who makes stupid mistakes, you’ll probably keep making them. But, it’s worth making the effort. As Nietzsche said, “On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow.”
  6. Take solace in poetry.
Do Not Make Things Too Easy


Do not make things too easy.
There are rocks and abysses in the mind
As well as meadows.
There are things knotty and hard: intractable.
Do not talk to me of love and understanding.
I am sick of blandishments.
I want the rock to be met by a rock.
If I am vile, and behave hideously,
Do not tell me it was just a misunderstanding.

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  1. October Obligations… « Joe Martin Words

    […] I don’t actually want to. I feel like, between them, John and Dan have said everything which needs to be said – but as late as yesterday I’m still […]


  2. Someone

    What, not a single comment ?! I expected some Doom fans coming here and saying “it’s okay, read the book next time ;)” or something like that, I mean, such genuine humbleness is so rare these days, it’s the duty of everyone (especially gamers) to value it whenever it exists – where are the gamers ?

    So thank you, you’re a better person everytime you acknowledge the errors you made and fix them – and as someone who write articles, you’re also improving journalism – game journalism – as a whole, whenever you acknowledge your errors directly and in public. Sure it takes some guts to do it, but it pays, in the immediate present and in the future.

    On behalf of (most) Doom fans, gamers and people-who-write-articles, I need to say it again: thank you Mr Grill.

    (ps: I found out about you from the comment you posted on Walker’s blog entry about corruption)


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    […] How To Apologise – Personal Blog, Dan Griliopoulos […]


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