Extending the Olive Branch

I spoke to you a while back about apologies; about what constitutes an apology, and what an apology means to people. I outlined three key elements of a good apology:

  1. taking responsibility for your mistakes
  2. apologising for them
  3. taking steps to right the wrongs done

I’m happy to report that yesterday VegNews did all of those things. Am I completely and totally satisfied with it? In all honesty, no. I do think this should have been their first reaction, and that it should be featured more prominently on the site… But the bigger issue to me is that there’s no comment on what really bothered me about the whole thing: their attempt to cover up the issue, and their poor attitude when first called on it. I read a really interesting article lately on the dangers of forgiving too easily. In fact, there was also a brilliant quote in Mad Men that I think sums up my feelings on the issue: “Since when is forgiveness a better quality than loyalty?” I don’t think I completely trust VegNews – not yet.

Having said that… Following Quarrygirl’s lead, I think I’m willing to take a step back and let my hurt feelings go. VegNews is, after all, run by people. People who also have feelings. I would be lying if I said that I had never found myself getting defensive when confronted with mistakes. True, overcoming that defensiveness is a big part of growing up, but I’m willing to cut the company some slack – if they actually carry through with their promises. A business relationship is like many others. When trust is betrayed, apologies don’t automatically rebuild broken trust. That takes time, and effort.

VegNews has committed to i) representing recipes with custom vegan photography, ii) using only vegan stock images, and iii) working towards the development of (and later hosting) a vegan photo bank. I’m sure there will be people who don’t think this is enough. For example, depending on how the photo bank is run, some photographers may feel that their profession is not being given its due. Hopefully VegNews is taking this into account. In the meanwhile, I see that they’ve signed their names on this letter, unlike the previous one, which was a source of aggravation for some people. It seems to me that the people at VegNews are making some sort of effort to stand behind the promises they’ve made, and are willing to work towards repairing the damaged relationship with their readers. They’ve even included contact information and invited feedback, which is a good sign.

Like any promises, these ones need to be honoured to mean anything. As I’ve said, forgiveness shouldn’t always come easily. I ended my last post by saying that “VegNews does not deserve your forgiveness because they haven’t even asked for it. And, until they do, they will not get it. At least, not from me.” Well, they have now asked for our forgiveness – and I am (tentatively) willing to give it.

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