Thursday, June 30, 2016
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Apologising is one of those simple things many of us find hard to do.
Perhaps this is because we associate an apology with two heavyweights of the emotional stage – Power and Truth.
Saying you’re sorry is an admission of guilt, right? It undermines your viewpoint, surrenders your personal power and potentially lays the blame at the feet of the innocent…
After all, she started it!
The reality is that an effective apology is not about the situation that prompted it, but about the relationship that requires it.
It is important to remember than an apology is about the other person. While there may be a lot of your own emotions tied up in saying “I’m Sorry”, when it comes down to it, the focus needs to be on the person who feels that they have been hurt.
If you find apologising a difficult business, it is probably because you are clouding the issue. Try stripping an apology back to its essence. It is not about you, your pride or your belief in your viewpoint.
It is about making amends – the purpose of the apology is to mend what deserves to be fixed.
Confession is Good for the Soul
Two of my friends have been a bit chilly with each other of late. Their lives are so intertwined they can’t simply fall off each other’s radar, but when they put their cold shoulders into action the temperature in the room becomes Arctic.
Fearful of frostbite, I confronted one of them and asked her why she hadn’t apologised.
She stared at me in horror.
How could I fail to take her side? Everyone knew she was in the right. Why should she give her the satisfaction? And who says she needs – or even wants – to be friends again?
As I stared into her face, hot with hurt, I had to ask: Was the apology really the harder road?
To me it seemed that the pain she felt from not healing their rift was infinitely worse than the pain of the original insult.
In the end they had a couple of drinks, howled on each other’s shoulders and put their past injury to rest.
And maybe confession is good for the soul, because having dealt with the issue head-on, their friendship is now stronger than ever.
Guidelines to a Great Apology
So what makes an effective apology?
- Tossing a box of chocolates at the recipient and mumbling a few words into your armpit?
- Apologising with grace and sincerity, only to then quickly excuse and justify your behaviour?
If either of the above seem a good way to go, the following tips might throw some light on the art of the effective apology:
- Be sincere – talk from the heart. Don’t apologise if you don’t really feel it, because it will only add to the rift between you. If you are having problems feeling warm and fuzzy about the other person, think back to your relationship before the conflict. Focus on some part of it that you sincerely want to maintain and use these emotions as your inspiration.
- Be specific – focus on asking forgiveness for the issue at hand. Avoid drawing past insults or conflicts into the discussion. Be very clear about what you are sorry for. Describe the exact behaviour that was out of line, so there are no further misunderstandings.
- Make it meaningful – an offhand apology will never go down well. Apologising requires you to expose part of yourself. Commit to healing the hurt you have caused by making a meaningful apology. This doesn’t require flowers or gifts, just an apology that connects with the other person’s needs.
- Make it timely - the longer you leave it, the harder it will be and the worse the slight will feel to your friend. You may need time to cool off and compose yourself, but just make sure you wade back in before the waters have turned to ice.
- Keep it in proportion – the apology should correspond to the level of injury. A violinist is a little over the top for having snapped at your partner over the washing up. Similarly, a quick peck on the cheek will do little to bridge the walls that have been erected after a major conflict.
- Go public - as squeamish as this may make you feel, there is a time and a place for the public apology. If you need to test the waters first in private, then that is fair, but if the stage is where you have to go to do your penance, then keep your chin up and brave it out. If it is good enough for the penitent presidents of the world, it should be good enough for us!
It is also important to remember to not ruin a good apology by adding any of the following phrases after “I’m Sorry…”
- …but I don’t know why!
- …although I didn’t do anything wrong!
- …even though it wasn’t my fault.
- …but you must be as well?
- …are you happy now?
On the Receiving End
Maybe one of the obstacles to becoming a culture that embraces the apology is that we are equally unskilled and out of practice at receiving an apology.
If someone has taken the time and built up the courage to apologise to you in person, it is important that you respond with an equal level of honesty and compassion.
This doesn’t mean that all hurts are healed or that you have to accept it even when you still feel like cracking a plate over his head, but it does mean that you need to acknowledge it.
An apology is often just the first movements forward under the flag of truce. The soldiers might still be at the gate and the injured at your feet, but the apology is the first step away from the conflict.
If you feel that you cannot even acknowledge the initial gesture, then retreat until you are able to or quit the field altogether.
Because treating an apology as the signal for another round on the battlefield will reduce the likelihood of every seeing the white flag again.
The Last Word
Saying you are sorry is not a magic cure to conflict.
But although apologising to someone does not undo the hurt, it shows them that you respect their feelings and recognise their point of view.
In a situation that may have led to tears and harsh words, a heart-felt apology is a very simple and effective way of moving from conflict to communication.
Just remember that despite what the cynics say, an apology is NOT a good way to have the last word!
Think of it instead as the beginning of the conversation… and that’s my last word.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
While I do not always end up managing to put each of the following tips into practice, I do make a big effort to do so each day. This is a list of my favorite tips to improving your life. All it takes is a little bit each day and you will see wondrous changes. Feel free to add your own tips to the comments.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
To make our kisses memorable and full of pleasure it’s important to know how to French kiss properly.