#238 Say “I’m Sorry”

An apology that includes the word “but” is null and void before it really ever gets started. “I’m sorry but…” becomes meaningless …

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#238

Say “I’m sorry”

This is a suggestion that, for many of us, is a no-brainer. Some of us know when we have committed an infraction in word or deed and we readily and easily apologize. Others, perhaps not so much. Why is it important to say “I’m sorry”?

Respect

An apology demonstrates respect and empathy for the person who was ‘wronged’. If we’ve hurt someone – unintentionally or otherwise – it’s important to acknowledge that our actions may have generated unwanted or unpleasant feelings in the person who felt injured. It indicates that we have an awareness of how our behavior impacted another and that we are willing to take responsibility for our behavior.

Accept Responsibility

Perhaps the most important element is that of taking responsibility; of owning the impact our actions have had. An apology only has an impact when the offensive behavior isn’t repeated. As the famous saying goes… “the first time is a mistake, the second is a choice.” When we own our part in an infraction, pay attention to how it came about, and repent – making a promise not to repeat the offense – it becomes forgivable.

Mean it.

Being sincere is the second most important element in an apology; expressed without anger or blame. When we accompany it with a desire to repair the damage, with humility, and compassion for the feelings of all involved, the regret is more easily accepted.

Watch your Language

An apology that includes the word “but” is null and void before it really ever gets started. “I’m sorry but…” becomes meaningless because most of us will only remember the words that came after. If we use any language that implies blame, defense will rise in the receiver and they’ll be unable to register the apology. If there is a problem to resolve, work on it after responsibility for hurt has been demonstrated and amends have begun.

Think carefully about someone in your life that may still be hurting from your action or lack thereof… consider taking a few minutes to construct an apology and then…

Say “I’m sorry”.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

When the UGLIES Escape

Don’t be hard on yourself as you experience your humanness…

Being human is difficult. Becoming human is a lifelong process. To be truly human is a gift. ~ Abraham Heschel

Do you ever get grumpy? Out of sorts? Moody? Do your UGLIES escape?

Of course you do… you’re a human.

Sometimes, when reviewing basic communications skills with people who work in corporate environments, they tell me they “know all this stuff from seminars, workshops, and retreats at work” and then quickly ask the questions “why can’t I do it after I leave the office?”

I empathize with that question because I teach good communication tools… you know…

  • Use “I” statements
  • Don’t interrupt
  • Repeat what you heard
  • Validate

Yadda, yadda.

And yet, I too – am completely imperfect with using them. When we mix a big batch of emotion into the human factor – even the best intentions can go astray.

Sometimes, our frustration reaches a tipping point and we react without thinking about those skills we’ve collected in our communication toolkit. It happens when we are sick and when we are in pain. It can happen when we are afraid or worried. In those moments, our ability to stay focused and pay attention to how we could be behaving, is blurred.

In those times, we are prone to react first and think about our toolbox later…

And then communication goes south, conflict arises, sparing ensues, and feelings get hurt. The uglies come out.

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Now what?

First

I believe the most important thing we can do is apologize. We don’t have to apologize for how we were feeling… we only need to apologize for how we behaved when our feelings took over.

Listen, feelings are feelings and although they are not always rational or in context to a situation – they are still feelings and generally they just surface… we don’t ask for them.

Next

When we can collect our thoughts, step back, OUT of the emotion and pay attention to how we were feeling – the second step is to calmly, rationally, explain how we were feeling – using “I feel…” statements (remember to use ‘feeling’ words).

Think about the things I speak to in the post It Wasn’t Me – Or Was It? and try to communicate from the position of what you recognize about yourself…. In other words, OWN IT.

Ask for what you need – specifically. Do you need advice? Validation? Help? Or do you just want someone to listen? Letting someone know what you need in advance of sharing your feelings can often be helpful.

Lastly

Be willing to listen.

Frequently, an argument is simply the tip of an iceberg and representative of other issues that are simmering below the surface. When we can own our feelings, step out of the emotion, and be prepared to listen… we are able to address those matters that affect us subliminally.

Remember, the things I talk about take practice and patience! Don’t be hard on yourself as you experience your humanness… when you are tired or sick… when you temporarily lose track of your toolbox… or when you make a mistake.

Your life – my life – everyone’s life, is a work in progress. Just keep moving forward. Today is a new day.

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