We all know there is no rule book for the entertainment world. Working in a subjective industry means that no matter how many times you are told to do something one way, you will upset someone sooner or later who wants it done differently. We see this happen with marketing materials, in the casting room, on set, and even during personal interactions while networking. This subjectivity ends up causing talent to keep their guard up! Deep down, that means most talent are living in constant fear of causing offense. Not a fun way to live!
A common result of this type of fear is the overly apologetic person. You've probably overheard it -- if you haven't been the one doing it yourself -- many times. "I'm so sorry I'm late . . . I'm unprepared . . . I'm wearing red shoes." I see talent apologizing for the most ridiculous things on almost a daily basis!
So when is an apology appropriate? Never, if it's business related. That's right. In entertainment, an apology is NEVER appropriate. This rule applies to talent who are always professional and have their career put together, of course. [The talent who knows they are doing something inappropriate doesn't need to apologize. An apology is only effective when it is sincere; and it can only be sincere when the offense occurs unexpectedly.] A talent who does not have a headshot when they walk into a casting knows they should have brought it with them; apologizing is not only ingenuine, it also encourages hard feelings against the talent for future castings. On the other hand, a talent who accidentally steps on a casting director's foot while entering the casting room may be quick to offer a sincere apology, but even then should only say the words "I'm sorry" once.
It's one of the hardest thing for us to do as humans. We want to be polite, so we profusely apologize for minor mistakes. The reality of human nature, however, is that the more we apologize, the more we convince the other person that we have wronged them. Over time, the psychology behind apologizing causes the offender to be unappreciated or disliked. And so, we have manifested the opposite effect of what was intended.
It is hard to stop after just one apology when we are sincerely sorry, but it's always an effective form of communication. Even when someone is upset or angry (and I mean that your ear is practically being chewed on), the best policy is to say it once and then keep your mouth shut. Let them vent. Hear their frustrations. Sympathize and be sure not to make the same error twice, but only say the words "I'm sorry" once! By doing so, you not only give the other person a chance to choose forgiveness, but you can also make yourself rise on their list of talent worthy of professional respect.
Can you control your fears and build more positive relationships?