Ask Mr. Manners

Apologize no more! (Or more than necessary)

It seems to me that a new trend is to always be apologizing. We hear celebrities, government officials, and even young children all apologizing for things that are absurd and beyond their control. I had just met a new colleague at work, and not five minutes into the conversation, the apologies came pouring out. This is a habit that many people have acquired, myself included at times, and we have no reason to be apologizing. One should never have to apologize for expressing themselves.

A bit of southern wisdom goes: “Never apologize for showing your feelings. When you do, you are apologizing for the truth.”

But not all apologies come from a lack of confidence. Some are necessary to make amends. In a situation where we have truly wronged another person, then action is required. Looks like simply saying sorry doesn’t fix everything after all. (I’m guessing you’ve figured that one out.)  If you want people to truly forgive you, you have to apologize with both words and actions. So how can you make the apology equation work for you? Here’s my guide:

Own Up. “First, acknowledge that this is your fault,” says relationship counselor Karen Sherman, Ph.D. Instead of blaming the situation on other factors, take responsibility for your actions.

Make Amends. Now it’s time to apologize. “Tell them that you’re sorry, and that you realize how this has effected them negatively.” By acknowledging the repercussions of your actions, you’re showing that you take ownership of the issue and that you actually care about how the person you offended feels.

Fix Your Mistake. Your last move: Physically make up for the mistake. That way, your apology has both parts: words and actions. Would “sorry” have made any difference? Does it ever? It’s just a word. One word against a thousand actions.

As I hear  more and more people becoming constant apologizers, I often wonder, “Are we ruining our apologies with excuses?” It is never easy to apologize, but when has anything that is easy been worth it? When we rise above the petty constant apologizing, and focus on really finding meaning in asking forgiveness, our apologies carry power. Redemption is not always readily granted, but when a strong man rises to the occasion, it helps to make it a guarantee.

On a final note, apologies are a two-way road. Always remember, “In this life, when you deny someone an apology, you will remember it at a time you beg forgiveness.” What goes around comes around, and if you have been throwing all of your apologies to the wind they will come back to hit you rather than be received by whom they are intended for. And in my experience a slap in the face does.

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