So yeah… How to Apologize
I don’t know if I’m in the right mindset to write this today. The range of emotions racing through my mind has me unable to truly focus. For the last 10 years, I worked in Corporate America.
As of Wednesday, that’s no longer the case.
It’s bittersweet, to be sure, but 10 years anywhere is bound to seep into your bones. I’m shook… and, excited. I feel this sense of relief and disdain. Fear and thrill. I want it, and I can’t image being outside of those walls.
Maybe it’s a perfect time to talk about apologies then, huh? It’s a pretty similar sensation we go through during the apology process. Excitement, rage, disappointment, humiliation, justification, and (always) awkwardness. This, that, and the third.
We’re going to dive into when to apologize, why to apologize, and the ever-so-important how to apologize. If you hate it, that’s okay. If you’re great at it, that’s awesome. We’re going to grow together and suffer together. At the end of this, we’re going to know exactly how to step up to the plate, swing, and use those two little words…
How about this…
Everyone makes mistakes. No matter your good-ness or depth of love – you are going to hurt someone’s feelings. Most likely, it’s going to be someone you love. We always hurt the ones we love. The difference between bitterness and strength is never found in a clean history, it’s found in perseverance.
But man… why does it suck so bad to step up to the plate and actually utter the words? It’s beneficial, it’s relationship fitness, and yet we would rather go on the silent treatment and sweep the negativity under the rug.
We live in a world of arrogance and narcissism. Apologizes are loaded. No one actually believes you when you have the nerve to say something like, “I’m sorry, but… this is actually your fault.” Or even worse, “I’m sorry your feelings are hurt.”
That’s not how to apologize, that’s how you blame shift.
As for me…
This is a strength. Only because my wife put me through a sort of marriage-evolution that forced me to learn to how truly meet someone where they’re at with sincere humility in order to make something right.
Previously, I would have crafted my rebuttal to make my adversary feel a sense of existential dread, just to save myself from the deep burn of humility. It’s a rocky path, and I wanted nothing to do with it. I savored on the flavor of manipulation because I knew I could.
And then, married life changed me. Joanie (#RibRib) didn’t let me get away with that. First, she didn’t deserve that type of treatment. I knew it, I wanted her to know it. She had been married before. Her ex was cruel. He fed off her. Made her question her sanity and her value.
Not too different than how I treated others (sorry, mom.)
She didn’t accept it, either. If I came off callous, she told me. She didn’t say, “You’re just like him.” Instead, she asked me to try again. She called me out. Her hurt didn’t create animosity, it created a bridge.
And then, having two daughters made it even easier. Those two have soft hearts (and savage lips) and I never wanted to something to hurt them. Which, obviously, means I was bound to say plenty.
I had two choices. A) Be just another man who hurt without hesitation. B) Be different.
As for us…
I said it before, but we live in a society starved for authenticity. Everything has an angle. It’s hard to find people who just want to do the right thing and keep it moving. You can be selfish (I want to take care of my family), and not self-centered. When in doubt, we drift inwards. Overthinking discussions and arguments before they happen, going on the defensive before anyone is on offense.
Here’s one lesson to take out of this: It’s never an issue of how to apologize. How doesn’t matter as much as when. How means you don’t do it. I don’t change my car’s oil because I don’t know how. Joanie doesn’t score touchdowns on Madden because she doesn’t know how to play. But we know how to apologize. Words matter. And you’ve got to say sorry. It’s already a part of your dictionary, you know how to do it.
When to apologize?
Before anything else, you must attempt to be the first to apologize. Not because of the simply reaction, but rather because of the damage. Whether you intended on hurting someone doesn’t matter. Their feelings are their feelings. You don’t get to demonize anyone other than yourself. Not okay. No sir.
Relationships can’t last without humility and grace. Not healthy relationships. No sir. There’s got to be an open line of communication. If not, you’re simply biding time before an explosion.
If you don’t know if you should apologize, just assume so. It’s better safe than sorry. People will thank you for crossing the bridge, and they’re far more likely to meet you in the middle. The simplest way to learn how to apologize is to do it, and do it often. It’s like burpees for the soul.
- Do not defend yourself. If you’re going to go about learning how to apologize. Start with accepting blame. You’re not on trial. Live and let live.
- If you don’t understand, ask. If you hurt someone’s feelings, then it’s okay not to know. But if someone is trying to talk, listen. If you can tell, get some insight on what you’re doing wrong.
- Be okay with being wrong.
- Take time to talk about it afterwards, but don’t be afraid to repeat yourself.
- Check the tone of your voice. If you don’t sound genuine, fix it.
- Accept that you can learn how to apologize on a case-by-case basis. In the middle of apologizing.
- Don’t take offense to a bad reaction, don’t change your mind on the apology because of their reaction. Love is not 50/50. It’s your commitment.
- Say “I’m sorry” out loud until they get it.
Which brings us to resiliency…
What does resiliency mean? It’s coming out of a struggle stronger than when you entered it.
Like I said, burpees for the soul.
Accept it, and move forward.
And hey, come see about us.