On 16 November 2017, Leeann Tweeden recounted that Senator Al Franken forcibly kissed her without consent during a rehearsal for a USO skit in 2006. He also posed with his hands over (but not touching) her breasts while she slept on a military aircraft. Ms. Tweeden was wearing a protective military vest. At the time, Franken was not yet a Senator.
Although Senator Franken said he remembered the details of the skit rehearsal differently, he quickly apologized to Ms. Tweeden. His apology was made in the form of a written statement - initially a brief one which was met with criticism - and a few hours later, a lengthier statement - which Ms. Tweeden accepted. Senator Franken also said he would cooperate fully with a Senate Ethics Committee inquiry.
While Senator Franken may, in fact, be truly sorry for his actions - from an emotional intelligence perspective, a written apology will never begin to have the level of sincerity and impact that an in-person apology would.
No one believes or wants to hear an apology written by anyone - particularly something that sounds like it was written by an attorney. Sincere apologies are spoken from the heart - not read from a script.
From a crisis management, public relations, and political point of view - an in-person apology, provided it is sincere, is also, with rare exception, the best course of action. In fact, it would be wisest for Senator Franken to apologize first to Ms. Tweeden in-person - and then to his electorate on camera.
The images shown above were not taken during this apology - but they do show Senator Franken with a facial expression which is extremely common during public apologies.
His jaw is clenched - indicating an adrenaline surge. His lips are rolled inward (an Inward Lip Roll aka ILR) - demonstrating an attempt at suppressing strong emotions. The corners of his mouth are pulled laterally and down - and the tissue around his lips is "bunched up". Along with his downward gaze, this facial expression cluster is classic primarily for that of Strong Regret - and secondarily for Frustration.
This Bitter-Regret + Frustration expression is often referred to as a Mea Culpa Face.
Intriguingly, when in private, the same individuals tend to display facial expressions with increased elements of sadness, shame, and empathy.
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