Lately we’ve had some big apologies in the news: Deshaun Watson, Will Smith and Britany Griner. But are they real or just a thinly veiled attempt to get back into the good graces of the public?
I took a look at the body language in all of these cases. Here’s some of my analysis:
First; Let’s take a look at NFL quarterback DeShaun Watson who’s been accused of sexual misconduct with 60 massage therapists in Houston:
He starts off with the word ‘look’ which says that he’s irritated with the situation and then continues on with an apology that sounds emotionless and almost memorized. We can only see ½ of his face. With what I can see, I don’t notice any movement in his eyebrows that would say sadness- that’s when the eyebrows go up in the middle of the face, over the nose or that he’s looking for acceptance which is show with raised eyebrows.
But then let’s look at his next statement:
When asked what his personal growth looks like, he first answers about how much work he has to do on the football field, then talks about counseling. People always say the most important thing to them first. So clearly learning from the situation thru counseling isn’t the most important thing. Even as he says it we see him sway back and forth. He’s super uncomfortable about this topic. In his defense—who wants to go to counseling? Nobody. It’s hard to look inward and be real with yourself. Then 3 times he rattles off the buzzword he’s been using every time I’ve heard him talk about the situation. ‘Community’ I’m sure he’s been coached to use it.
Sincerity Score for DeShaun: On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest: 1 Big thumbs down to him. Pants on Fire. Not sorry.
Moving on. Let’s talk about Will Smith. He posted an apology video on Instagram referencing how he slapped Chris Rock. Let’s see a clip from it:
There’s lots that I don’t like here. First. What’s with the robot sounding reading of the question? Will Smith is a trained actor and know how to generate emotion. Generally an apology mentions specific behavior not just the words ‘actions’ or ‘behavior’ , has sincerity and mentions how it impacted the other person. We don’t have any of those things here. And for someone who’s so good at creating emotion this is an epic failure.
The apology to Chris’ mom was much more sincere. He showed sadness in his eyebrows when he mentioned her (remember that’s when they go up in the middle) and then raises his eyebrows (that’s looking for acceptance) as he continues and talked about Tony Rock.
Smith’s performance here was deplorable considering his acting ability. I think Chris’ mom may have been something he was more upset about that Chris himself.
Sincerity Score 1-10: 2. This is ridiculous.
I have one more for ya. Let’s take a look at Brittany Griner. The US basketball player incarcerated in Russia for bringing a couple marijuana vape cartridges into the country. This is from the courtroom right before her sentencing.
Here we see sadness in her eyebrows, her voice is cracking, holding back tears and she mentions specific offenses including embarrassment and putting the Russian population in Jeopardy. This is a good apology.
Sincerity Score 10. This is what real apologies look and sound like.
We’ve seen 3 really different examples of how apologies can go. Sincerity comes with the body language, tone and words are congruent. It’s easy to see now that you know what to look for.
Seems like apologies are coming in at record pace. Who will be next? When you give them a look you’ll know who’s sincere and not. Good luck!