Fox news anchor Eric Bolling found himself in the middle of a feminist firestorm after making sexist remarks about the UAE’s first female pilot, Miriam Al Mansouri, who led the airstrikes against ISIS targets in September.
Open Mouth, Insert Foot
Here’s what happened…
Click to set custom HTML
What’s the Big Deal?
Just looking at his body language and the way he shrugs his shoulders and fidgets around, Bolling is clearly uncomfortable and comes off as insincere. He tells us he’s apologizing because when he got home he got “the look” from his wife. Apparently, if he had not gotten “the look,” then this half-ass apology would not have even happened. At least that’s the message women received. He clearly didn’t even recognize what was wrong with what he said in the first place. I especially love when fellow news anchor, Kimberly Guilfoyle, had to complete the apology for him by saying, “and you love women and have respect for them.” Clearly, even she understood what a pathetic excuse for an apology that was.
Second Apology – Much Better!
Unlike his first apology, Bolling comes right out of the gate admitting that his comment “was wholly inappropriate.” He goes on to say that his intent wasn’t to be disparaging, but that’s how it was taken. He also recognized that his first apology was inadequate due to the feedback he had received from many people, including women veterans and had taken that feedback “to heart.” He finally voiced his gratitude to Mansouri and recognized her as a hero and ended with a sincere apology.
So what can we learn from this?
First, understand that when you do or say something that comes across as offensive, it doesn’t matter what your intent was. All that matters is the result. Never start an apology with, “If I hurt you…” Of course you hurt the other person! Otherwise, you wouldn’t be sitting there looking like a jackass and the other person wouldn’t be upset, waiting for an apology from you.
Second, recognize that when a member of a group of people who have historically been marginalized and treated as second class citizens (aka “the weaker sex”) is publicly degraded and that group becomes pissed about it, it’s not the group that’s being “too sensitive.” It’s not the group acting like it can’t “take a joke.” It’s not society being “too p.c.” It is the person who made the degrading remark being an ass. Period.
Third, listen to the feedback and learn from it. Rather than having your apology come from a place of explaining yourself to be understood, try first to understand. If you come from a place of understanding, then you will be open to learning why what you did or said was offensive.
Fourth, when you apologize, admit that what you did or said was wrong. If you don’t believe that what you did or said was wrong, then your apology isn’t an apology and it certainly won’t come across as an apology. The other person will see right through you. It will show in your posture, your hand gestures, your facial expressions, and your words. Admit the wrongdoing and be sincere about it. And if you still don't think you're wrong, then review the third step above and do more listening than talking.
Jennifer Furlong has 25 years’ experience in the communication field and teaches communication and public speaking courses in the Savannah area. She earned a B.A. and M.A. in Communication from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. She currently resides in Richmond Hill, Ga. with her family of canines, felines, and humans. Let's be social! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter. Just look for Professor SpeechLady. See you in cyberspace.
Get my new book available on Amazon!