How To Apologize: Lessons From Shia LaBeouf's Blunder (Updated)

If you're a leader or a public figure with something to be sorry for, your apology should be honest, clear, and public.

Editor's Note: Never mind. LaBeouf's apology is, as BuzzFeed points out, weirdly similar to an entry on Yahoo Answers. We'd like to take this opportunity to remind you that the best apologies come from the heart.

When actor Shia LaBeouf's 2012 short film HowardCantour.com was released online yesterday, it took the Internet only a few hours to realize what critics at the Cannes Film Festival and elsewhere had not: Much of the plot and dialogue was lifted without attribution from a graphic short story by acclaimed comic artist Daniel Clowes.

What LaBeouf did next provides a master class in graceful apologies. Here, some lessons in fessing up and asking for forgiveness:

1) Address the issue immediately. LaBeouf sent out a series of tweets on the topic only hours after bloggers first commented on the similarities, including identical dialogue, between his film and Clowes' short story "Justin M. Damiano."

2) Come clean publicly. Twitter is the perfect medium for this. It allowed LaBeouf to address 66,000 followers without having to participate in a back and forth with a hostile press.

3) Be explicit about what you've done. LaBeouf says exactly what he should have done differently and why.

4) Be brief. There's a shade of self-justification here, but mercifully Twitter's 140-character limit keeps LaBeouf to his main point.

5) Be personal. It would have been a cowardly move not to mention Clowes directly.

6) Be direct.

Of course, this only gets the rhetorical part of the apology out of the way. If LaBeouf really wants to make amends, his next step should be to properly credit Clowes and offer him standard compensation for this adaptation of his work.

[Image: Flickr user butupa]

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