Thursday, May 30, 2013

Too Late To Apologize

While I don't think this headline is true, I did think it was a catchy title for a blog about apologizing -- and I love the song!

Anyway, there is so much to say about how to apologize, but today, I just want to focus on one little word that should never be included in an apology.

The word is "but." If you ever hear yourself say this word during an attempted apology, STOP yourself immediately, because you've just canceled the apology.

It doesn't matter if you are apologizing to your child, your spouse, your parent or a friend. The use of the word "but" renders your apology null and void. It tells the other person you are not sincere and that you are not taking responsibility for hurting their feelings. Furthermore, it introduces an excuse for your offending behavior. This hurts the offended person even more.

Here are a couple of examples of what not to say:
  • "I am sorry I yelled at you, but you made me so mad." 
  • "I am sorry I said mean things to you, but I'm just so frustrated with how you've handled this situation."
  • "I am sorry for losing my temper, but you shouldn't have done that."
Here are a couple of examples of more sincere apologies:
  • "I am sorry I yelled at you. I should not have done that. I love you so much. Can you forgive me?"
  • "I am sorry I said mean things to you. I did not mean to hurt your feelings. I value our friendship and I want to make things right. Is there anything I can do?"
  • "I am sorry for losing my temper. You did not deserve to be treated that way. I am working very hard to try to never do that again. Will you accept my apology?"
And of course, you actually have to be sincere with your words!

Just this morning I had to practice a good apology with my daughter. I had lost my temper and yelled at her. I could have given her a long list of reasons why I felt justified about yelling at her in the moment, but the truth is none of them matter. The only thing that matters is that I love her and I want to treat her well. I want to parent her with kindness, compassion and grace. Yelling has no place in that.

On the positive side, when I slip up and do yell at her, I am giving myself an opportunity to apologize, and I am showing her how to apologize -- good lessons for both of us!

There's no question about it, apologizing is difficult, but with some work and practice, you can get better at it. If all else fails, just try to think about how you would like to be apologized to and go from there! And remember, the end result is a reconciliation of the relationship that was broken by the offense.

1 comment: