I thought today would be a perfect day to write a piece about apologies and how to give one appropriately. Since we’re smack dab in the holiday season and most of us are spending more than enough time with our families, I consulted with my sister on this article and together, we have over 94 years of experience in giving and receiving apologies. I think that makes us experts in the field.
I thought it might be a good time to talk about what to do and what not do. This might come in handy in the next few weeks.
- Don’t defend yourself. Do not explain why you did what you did in a way that justifies what you did. That makes it seem like you’re not sorry at all. And it really makes you sound like a jerk.
- Listen! Listen to the person you’ve offended. Hear them out and how you’ve hurt them. It’s hard, but don’t formulate what you’re going to say in your head while he or she is talking. Just listen and hear what he or she is telling you. And care, for goodness sake.
- Be specific about why you’re sorry. Say “I’m sorry for ….” Avoid a general “I’m sorry.” And don’t roll your eyes, or say “Sorreeeee!” No those aren’t apologies. Tell the hurt person what you did to hurt them and say that you’re sorry for that specific thing.
- Don’t say “Well, I’m sorry you feel that way.” Nope, that won’t cut it. This is just a clever way people use to get out of a sincere apology. It puts the responsibility right back on the shoulders of the person that feels hurt.
- You won’t always understand why something hurts another person. Asking questions like “Why does that hurt you?” or “What happened in your past that makes you this way?” can make a person feel like you’re blaming them or like something is wrong with them. If they choose to open up about their past, that’s ok, but never ever use that information against them. It’s ok if you don’t get it, just apologize and move on.
HOWEVER!!! Any or all of these can be used by abusive people to control and manipulate you in a relationship. For example, abusive spouses keep their abused spouse in the cycle of abuse by saying things like, “Well I wouldn’t have called you that name if you hadn’t….” And then the abused spouse ends up apologizing! It’s a crazy making cycle, but know this: Abuse is never justified!!
Be careful that you’re in a healthy relationship and that you feel like an equal partner. If not, none of these tips apply!! They won’t work because they can and will be used against you. These ideas only work in HEALTHY relationships that are built on equality! If you feel that you might be in an abusive relationship, visit this website http://www.thehotline.org and click on the ‘is this abuse’ tab. Also, if you feel that you have a specific question for me, you can use my email address.
Thank you for reading and Happy Thanksgiving! Love you all!