Every day we interact with people in our lives and there’s bound to be misunderstandings, miscommunication and mistakes. Over the years and with self-mastery, I see the ups and downs of communication as excitement and no longer see it as pain and suffering but of course, we do not want to create relationships that are filled with constant or frequent misunderstandings and miscommunication.
“I am sorry”, is a common phrase that is used in our interactions with family members, friends, colleagues, bosses or even total strangers. Let’s understand how we typically use an apology and some of the following insights were shared by members of K Mummy’s Focus Group.
Here are some of the common reasons as to why we say sorry
We want to sweep matters under the rug, hoping that the topic would not be brought up again and so that we do not have to confront our mistakes any longer.
We want to make the other person feel better and often we ended up feeling worst about ourselves because we feel bad and guilty even after we have made that apology.
We say it habitually or because we think saying sorry is an act of niceness and politeness, even when the situation does not require you to apologise. This brings us to the following question.
When to not say sorry?
You do not need to say sorry when you do not mean it – This is passive-aggressive behaviour, sometimes we say it just so that the person would shut up or we say it just to satisfy the other person but deep down, we resent the person because we feel that we are not in the wrong and that the apology should come from the other person. On the surface, it may appear noble and well-meaning that you started the apology and yet it is missing key elements of a genuine apology and this type of apology does not resolve issues and the same problems will keep resurfacing.
Saying sorry because you needed to care for your wellbeing – “I am sorry I am hungry and I need to eat.” “I am sorry for spending the time at home because I need to look after my sick relative.” They sound polite and I sometimes have the habit of saying out such an apology, when we are being conscious and aware of our fundamental needs, there is no need for an apology. You can excuse yourself instead of apologising.
Double-edged apology – I am sorry that I am not good enough for you. I am sorry that I cannot meet your expectations. While they sound innocent and self-defeating, this type of apology is subtly pushing blame on the other person. By saying that I am sorry that I am not good enough for you, it just means that you are implying that the person feels that way about you and it would end up making both parties feeling worst. A genuine apology is free from blame.
Sweeping matters under the rug apology – You just want to move along and do not want to dwell on the matter, while this would work for you it may leave the other party dumbfounded and unheard because you want to cut short the conversation and not hear about it any more and you dominate the conversation by cutting in your apology. “I said I am sorry.”
There are more examples and these are the most common type of apologies that I’ve come across.
How to apologise in ways that could heal yourself and others?
An apology can be healing for both parties when done right. Why we refuse to apologise is because we feel that apology gives away our power to the other person and makes the other person feel superior and righteous while we are left to feel guilty and bad. Isn’t that what apology is about? I would say that that is how society tends to view an apology. As a child, we were made to apologise each time we make a mistake and we were punished for it too, so when we apologise we might be reminded of how we were reprimanded for our mistakes and how we were made to apologise and how we were being punished for our mistakes. If you did not experience this at all in your life, then you probably have a healthy relationship when it comes to apologising.
Begin by shifting how you view apology. An apology is an act of healing, as a Reiki Master, one of our principal is to have compassion for ourselves and others, compassion attracts healing energy and you increase your energetic vibrations too. You will attract positivity in life when you practice saying sorry to yourself and others.
Here are the three basic yet powerful steps to an apology
1- Share what are you apologising for.
2- Why are you apologising?
3- What are you promising to do or not to do?
This format of an apology is seldom practised because it is not normalised, you may not get used to it if this is new for you, practice writing them down and saying it out loud in front of a mirror before you go and apologise to someone using this format. Powerful leaders such as Jacinda Ardern practice this format of an apology and she’s able to gain more respect than condemnation for mistakes made as a Prime Minister of New Zealand.
Here is an example of what it looks like in an apology with the key three steps,
“I am sorry for taking your dress without your permission and I have also accidentally torn a piece of the fabric and it is beyond repair. I am apologising because I knew how much that dress means to you and I did not think of the consequence when I took it from you. I have been eyeing the dress and I did not want to let you know because I am ashamed to admit that I can’t afford that dress. I promise to ask you for permission if I want to borrow something from you and I will not take it from you if you do not allow me. As for the dress that I have torn, I am ready to accept the consequence and please let me know how can I repay you for the damage done because as much as I have made the mistake, I want us to still be friends.”
In this one apology, there is accountability, bold leadership and willingness to face the music because friendship is the motivating factor and not our ego.
Often in complicated situations, whenever I use this format of an apology, the relationship is healed and I am healed too. Being prepared to face the consequences of our actions mean that we are willing to accept the outcome of our mistakes. It may sound scary or confronting but on a contrary, if you try it on, apologising in this manner is freeing because there is nothing to hide and nothing to pretend and you walk out of your mistakes with dignity.
We keep saying that human beings make mistakes and yet, we are too busy hiding away our mistakes so that we appear perfect in the eyes of others. It is ok to share mistakes for us to learn from them whenever appropriate.
This takes practice and it would be easier if you work with a coach who can refine your apology.
I am sure you have more questions about this topic so don’t leave them unanswered.
Visit KamilahMS.com and let me know how I can help.
Mistakes made can be forgiven. Acknowledge that we are all human beings who are not free from making mistakes as cliche as it sounds. Apology when done sincerely can heal you and others too. Often a mistake is made countless times is simply because we are not clear about what we are apologising for and we do not make a new promise to learn from our mistakes.
If you do not want to apologise because you do not feel a need to, then don’t. If you want to make amends with people that matter to you, this method of apology cannot be skipped.