Not sure if you caught David Letterman’s show last night, but he once again addressed the joke he made about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s daughter. I truly believe that he did show poor taste with the joke, but respect the man’s first amendment rights nonetheless. Likewise, we have to respect Governor Palin’s right to complain about the joke and to point out the damage that it has done.
I remember, back in my freshman year of college, when I first learned about the process of communication. I was told that communication is a two-way street and that it is the responsibility of both the communicator and the receiver to find the “message that is sent.” There are so many opportunities for what is intended and what is received to be radically different.
In our everyday lives, we need to remember this rule as we interact with our friends and colleagues because when we forget, bad things can happen to our relationships and other endeavors.
However, I highlight Letterman’s apology for what he says in the second half of his comments in the video above. He says: “‘Oh, boy, now I’m beginning to understand what the problem is here. It’s the perception rather than the intent.’ It doesn’t make any difference what my intent was, it’s the perception. And, as they say about jokes, if you have to explain the joke, it’s not a very good joke … I told a bad joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception. And since it was a joke I told, I feel that I need to do the right thing here and apologize for having told that joke. It’s not your fault that it was misunderstood, it’s my fault. That it was misunderstood.”
I hope to always have the courage to apologize for when I’m wrong, as I quite often am, and I hope that those who receive unintended messages from me will allow me to have the chance to make things right, as best as I am capable of.