A perfect apology in three steps | Jahan Kalantar | TEDxSydney


you would think that saying sorry would

get easier the older we become as

children we like the words to describe

how we feel inside but it doesn't in

fact as adults we now have two problems

one we never learn to say sorry properly

and two we're anxious about doing so and

that's completely understandable we live

in a very complex world and we all yearn

for simplicity basically we favor emojis

or emotions but sometimes you can't

afford to not show how sorry you are

sometimes everything is on the line I'm

a criminal defense lawyer I stand beside

people on one of the hardest days of

their life I'm their ally I'm their

friend I'm their advocate but I'm also

their guilt I'm their blame I'm their

shame I am with them when they are the

most vulnerable they will ever be and

trust me being vulnerable is terrifying

but through vulnerability we can access

our authentic voice and when we do so

magic happens in the abstract I'm

talking about clearer vision less

miscommunication better outcomes but in

the practical in my world I'm talking

about the difference between going to

jail and going home the difference

between seeing your children twice a

year or twice a week and those disputes

that can be resolved and those that will

last a lifetime

you see people are more than happy to

sacrifice their voice to mine because my

voice has had the benefit of formal

training and experience but I'm here to

tell you that that's a mistake nobody

not the court not my mom wants an

apology from jehan KO lanta they want to

hear your apology with all of its flaws

and imperfections so the best apology

that I've ever heard was from a 20 year

old shot for the name Sam who didn't

finish formal education when Sam came

into my practice you could tell that he

was a good kid in a lot of trouble he

understood what he did wrong but

explaining it it was like pulling teeth

so what we asked him to do is

a letter of apology this is a wonderful

piece of evidence that the court

considers when sentencing you it lets

them know the kind of person you are and

that you understand that you've done the

wrong thing on the day of sentencing Sam

arrives he hands me the letter it's

barely a paragraph long and I'll read it

to you as it sounded in my head all

those years ago your majestic forgive my

nefarious consternation it's okay if it

doesn't make sense I've read a lot of

apologies it's gobbledygook but I

remember looking at Sam and I said Sam

what is this what have you written

and I felt bad cuz your lawyer does have

favorites but he explained it to me he

said jehan I don't like English very

much I got bullied at school I was

called stupid that's why I dropped out

but I wanted the judge to know how sorry

I was so what I did was I got a

dictionary and if thesaurus I found the

word that I felt like sad and then I

found the fancy version

it took me eight hours to write that

letter but I wanted the judge to know I

was sorry that is authenticity that is

vulnerability that you cannot fake any

young man who spends eight hours doing

something he hates because he wants to

show how sorry he is gets it and it's

different from the CF I'm sorry you feel

that way that seems to be flying around

and Counting for an apology so what goes

into a good apology there's a framework

you can always use it goes

why because and always start with why

you're sorry

sorry I couldn't make it to your TEDx

talk Jehan move to the because because I

know you worked very hard on it and

finished with an end and if you ever

give another TEDx talk I'll be there

good apology very misconceived but a

good apology but this framework can help

us whenever we need it let's look at the

other side let's talk about gratitude I

was acting for a young man once he was

polite and respectful and very different

to how the police factsheet seemed to

describe him on the 19 question this

young man while studying for his final

high school examinations had a breakdown

he grabbed a knife and attacked his

family he drank laundry detergent he

destroyed property and ultimately made

some very serious threats when I met him

you could tell that this young man did

not need a lecture he needed help and

sometimes being a lawyer means helping

outside of the courtroom as well so it

took a great deal of advocacy but we

managed to convince this young man and

his family who had very strong views

about mental health to seek help and he

rose to the challenge he got the help he

needed he involved this school he

involved his friends and finally when it

came time for sentencing the judge who

read all of the evidence including a

beautifully written letter from this

young man which described the pain

inside like a hurricane he didn't know

could he could control past sentence he

thanks this young man thank you young

man by taking control of your mental

health issues I know you've given

yourself the best chance to get ahead

and I know you'll do great things and

the court was right that young man has

gone on to do great things and the

reason I believe

is because the court took a chance and

was vulnerable with him in plain English

without any legalese so what's the

lesson that's learnt in a lifetime of

helping people in moments of chaos well

when you say sorry mean it look people

in the eye use the framework don't be

afraid to say sorry

because you're too busy looking for the

perfect words and when you say thank you

mean it look people in the eyes don't be

afraid to say kind words because life is

very hard and people don't hear kind

words nearly often enough and the next

time you make a mistake or you need to

thank someone for something don't be

afraid to be vulnerable and authentic

because the power of any message is how

honest a place it starts its journey not

how many times it gets censored by a

lawyer and so I want to thank all of you

today for giving me the opportunity to

speak to you because I've been allowed

to share something that means a great

deal to me and I promise that if you

ever use my framework it will help you

even in your very own TEDx talk why

because and thank you