Apology Accepted

 

Making an apology comes naturally for some folks and can be very trying for others. We can store up an abundance of reasons not to apologize: it wasn’t my fault, he deserved it, I was right, she was wrong, it’s too late, it’s too soon. Even for those of us who will generally own up to our mistakes, apologizing can be difficult.

Recently I overreacted to a situation and was rude in response to something that was said. I had no way of knowing that I had misunderstood what was said, so was my rudeness really my fault? Yes. It was. But one of the challenges to offering an apology is getting past our own embarrassment and self-consciousness and just admitting we goofed.

Apologizing is a great moral lesson. When we apologize, we acknowledge that we made a mistake or offended another. We may not have intended to do so, but blaming the other person for his or her reaction only inflames the situation. For example, a not infrequent exchange between a man and a woman is that the man says something, and the woman gets upset. (I’m sure some of you can identify with that situation.) Instead of the man’s apologizing, at least saying he regrets that he hurt her feelings, he tells the woman she is “too emotional.” You men out there must know that comment is a really bad idea (unless you prefer to inflame the situation). Perhaps the woman seems too emotional to you, but that is a purely subjective evaluation. Not only that, it’s insulting. Don’t say it. A simple apology will do. And for you women who’d like to defuse the situation yourselves, just say, “You’re right. I’m too emotional.” That stops that line of criticism pretty quickly.

An apology sends many messages. It says that the speaker did not intend to hurt the other person. It says that he or she was out of line. It says that the person is willing to be responsible and accountable for what he or she says.

It says that the person cares about the relationship.

So the next time you do or say something that hurts, embarrasses, or upsets another person, stop for a moment. Whether or not you intended to do it, whether or not the person is (in your opinion) overreacting, whether or not there is any other excuse you can give, ask yourself, “Do I care about this relationship?”

And apologize.

There are 28 comments.

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  1. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Apologizing is a subset of admitting error: not all admissions of error are or require apology, but all apologies spring from an error of one sort or another, and are an acknowledgement of it. (I think this is true; I can’t think of any exceptions.)

    Admitting error is harder for some than others, and I think the greatest factor determining just how hard it is is probably one’s experience with error and correction growing up. If making mistakes was relatively painless, if correction was reasonably thoughtful, if there was no ridicule or anger or vindictiveness, then I think it’s fairly easy to admit errors later in life, and to accept those admissions from others.

    On the other hand, if errors were expensive — personally, emotionally — in youth, I think they remain expensive in adulthood, and that the fear of being caught in a mistake is something that one must work to overcome.

    I was fortunate (in so many ways) to grow up in a loving and gentle environment, one devoid of anger, in which harshness or ridicule was unknown. My children have grown up in a similar environment, and they have my parents to thank for that. I hope they become adults who can admit error, and who can therefore afford to take the risks that will allow them to advance in life.

    Good post, Susan.

    • #1
  2. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Thanks, Hank!! I also think that temperament plays a part. Certain personality types, especially those who are perfectionists, see corrections as personal attacks. With my husband, an engineer, I try to be gracious in pointing out “concerns.” Also, how secure we are in ourselves makes a difference. I used to be much more defensive when called out; I do better now. In Buddhism, two major stumbling blocks are “being right and looking good.” Apologies crush those hopes! But we have to rise above our resistance if we care about others.

    • #3
  4. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Speaking as one with abundant experience in the matter, I can say it gets much easier with practice. I finally realized that no one expects me to be perfect, and that makes it much easier — and surprisingly freeing — to admit my errors and mistakes. Also, it is much easier to apologize quickly, rather than ponder excuses, etc.

    • #4
  5. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    I prefer the Democrat apology:  “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my…”

    That’s much better. 

    I’m sorry that you are such an idiot.  Not you specifically, of course, but “anyone” who might be offended by my very reasonable actions.  Can’t imagine who, or why…  But still, I’m sorry.  For them.

    That’s a good go-to apology for people like me, who are never wrong.

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Speaking as one with abundant experience in the matter, I can say it gets much easier with practice. I finally realized that no one expects me to be perfect, and that makes it much easier — and surprisingly freeing — to admit my errors and mistakes. Also, it is much easier to apologize quickly, rather than ponder excuses, etc.

    Oh my gosh, you are right on every count, @jimmcconnell. Boy, do I feel silly when I apologize and the person has no idea what I’m talking about! Better safe than sorry, though. And I’ve gotten a lot of experience on not being perfect–trust me!

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    That’s a good go-to apology for people like me, who are never wrong.

    Love this!! Ah, yes, the good ol’ days when I was perfect . . .

    • #7
  8. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I prefer the Democrat apology: “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my…”

    That’s much better.

    I’m sorry that you are such an idiot. Not you specifically, of course, but “anyone” who might be offended by my very reasonable actions. Can’t imagine who, or why… But still, I’m sorry. For them.

    That’s a good go-to apology for people like me, who are never wrong.

    The proper form of the terminal ellipsis is three spaced dots, as in:

    “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my . . .”

    “Can’t imagine who, or why . . .”

    I am deeply offended by your punctuational laxity.

     

    • #8
  9. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I prefer the Democrat apology: “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my…”

    That’s much better.

    I’m sorry that you are such an idiot. Not you specifically, of course, but “anyone” who might be offended by my very reasonable actions. Can’t imagine who, or why… But still, I’m sorry. For them.

    That’s a good go-to apology for people like me, who are never wrong.

    The proper form of the terminal ellipsis is three spaced dots, as in:

    “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my . . .”

    “Can’t imagine who, or why . . .”

    I am deeply offended by your punctuational laxity.

     

    I’m sorry if you were offended by my correct punctuation…

    • #9
  10. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I prefer the Democrat apology: “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my…”

    That’s much better.

    I’m sorry that you are such an idiot. Not you specifically, of course, but “anyone” who might be offended by my very reasonable actions. Can’t imagine who, or why… But still, I’m sorry. For them.

    That’s a good go-to apology for people like me, who are never wrong.

    The proper form of the terminal ellipsis is three spaced dots, as in:

    “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my . . .”

    “Can’t imagine who, or why . . .”

    I am deeply offended by your punctuational laxity.

     

    I’m sorry if you were offended by my correct punctuation…

    That’s good, but you should now transition directly to a disquisition about how unjust it is to separate children from their parents at the border . . .

    • #10
  11. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I prefer the Democrat apology: “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my…”

    That’s much better.

    I’m sorry that you are such an idiot. Not you specifically, of course, but “anyone” who might be offended by my very reasonable actions. Can’t imagine who, or why… But still, I’m sorry. For them.

    That’s a good go-to apology for people like me, who are never wrong.

    “I’m sorry to anyone I have not offended…. I’ll be getting to You shortly.”

    • #11
  12. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I prefer the Democrat apology: “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my…”

    That’s much better.

    I’m sorry that you are such an idiot. Not you specifically, of course, but “anyone” who might be offended by my very reasonable actions. Can’t imagine who, or why… But still, I’m sorry. For them.

    That’s a good go-to apology for people like me, who are never wrong.

    The proper form of the terminal ellipsis is three spaced dots, as in:

    “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my . . .”

    “Can’t imagine who, or why . . .”

    I am deeply offended by your punctuational laxity.

     

    I’m sorry if you were offended by my correct punctuation…

    That’s good, but you should now transition directly to a disquisition about how unjust it is to separate children from their parents at the border . . .

    It might be more efficient if I just skip the next two steps and call you a Nazi…

    • #12
  13. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I prefer the Democrat apology: “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my…”

    That’s much better.

    I’m sorry that you are such an idiot. Not you specifically, of course, but “anyone” who might be offended by my very reasonable actions. Can’t imagine who, or why… But still, I’m sorry. For them.

    That’s a good go-to apology for people like me, who are never wrong.

    The proper form of the terminal ellipsis is three spaced dots, as in:

    “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my . . .”

    “Can’t imagine who, or why . . .”

    I am deeply offended by your punctuational laxity.

     

    I’m sorry if you were offended by my correct punctuation…

    That’s good, but you should now transition directly to a disquisition about how unjust it is to separate children from their parents at the border . . .

    It might be more efficient if I just skip the next two steps and call you a Nazi…

    LOLing out loud.

    • #13
  14. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I prefer the Democrat apology: “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my…”

    That’s much better.

    I’m sorry that you are such an idiot. Not you specifically, of course, but “anyone” who might be offended by my very reasonable actions. Can’t imagine who, or why… But still, I’m sorry. For them.

    That’s a good go-to apology for people like me, who are never wrong.

    The proper form of the terminal ellipsis is three spaced dots, as in:

    “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my . . .”

    “Can’t imagine who, or why . . .”

    I am deeply offended by your punctuational laxity.

     

    I’m sorry if you were offended by my correct punctuation…

    That’s good, but you should now transition directly to a disquisition about how unjust it is to separate children from their parents at the border . . .

    It might be more efficient if I just skip the next two steps and call you a Nazi…

    LOLing out loud.

    #metoo

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    #metoo

    @henryracette and @drbastiat, you two make lousy antagonists.

    • #15
  16. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    #metoo

    @henryracette and @drbastiat, you two make lousy antagonists.

    Oh shut up.

    I’m sorry if that offends you.. 

    • #16
  17. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    Growing up, I didn’t really learn how to apologize.  My father had come from a family that never let you forget it if you admitted you were wrong.  Consequently, I remember very few times when he actually apologized.  You could tell he was sorry; he might come up and give you a hug.  But he could never actually say, “I was wrong.”  

    I didn’t really have a hard time admitting wrong in business or non-personal situations, but apologizing to family members or romantic interests didn’t come easily.  Then I married a man who had no problems apologizing when he was wrong or had offended.  He did it easily and as a matter of course……and I realized that I didn’t think less of him, I thought more.  It took a while, but I found it easier and easier to admit fault when warranted and to apologize.  Twenty years later, I’m almost as good about it as he is.  And yes, I have told him that he is the one that taught me how to apologize.  (I think he had figured it out.)

    • #17
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    EB (View Comment):
    Twenty years later, I’m almost as good about it as he is. And yes, I have told him that he is the one that taught me how to apologize. (I think he had figured it out.)

    What a terrific story, @EB. When people model what is called for, instead of lecturing, and especially when we love the other person, we are deeply affected. How wonderful that you two could find common ground.

    • #18
  19. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I prefer the Democrat apology: “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my…”

    That’s much better.

    I’m sorry that you are such an idiot. Not you specifically, of course, but “anyone” who might be offended by my very reasonable actions. Can’t imagine who, or why… But still, I’m sorry. For them.

    That’s a good go-to apology for people like me, who are never wrong.

    The proper form of the terminal ellipsis is three spaced dots, as in:

    “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my . . .”

    “Can’t imagine who, or why . . .”

    I am deeply offended by your punctuational laxity.

     

    And throw a parenthesis in there for good measure:  “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my . . . (I can’t imagine who, or why . . .)

    (@susanquinn and @rightangles, I apologize.)

    • #19
  20. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I prefer the Democrat apology: “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my…”

    That’s much better.

    I’m sorry that you are such an idiot. Not you specifically, of course, but “anyone” who might be offended by my very reasonable actions. Can’t imagine who, or why… But still, I’m sorry. For them.

    That’s a good go-to apology for people like me, who are never wrong.

    The proper form of the terminal ellipsis is three spaced dots, as in:

    “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my . . .”

    “Can’t imagine who, or why . . .”

    I am deeply offended by your punctuational laxity.

     

    I’m sorry if you were offended by my correct punctuation…

    That’s good, but you should now transition directly to a disquisition about how unjust it is to separate children from their parents at the border . . .

    It might be more efficient if I just skip the next two steps and call you a Nazi…

    LOLing out loud.

    #metoo

    Another #metoo victim of punctuational assault . . .

    • #20
  21. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I prefer the Democrat apology: “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my…”

    That’s much better.

    I’m sorry that you are such an idiot. Not you specifically, of course, but “anyone” who might be offended by my very reasonable actions. Can’t imagine who, or why… But still, I’m sorry. For them.

    That’s a good go-to apology for people like me, who are never wrong.

    The proper form of the terminal ellipsis is three spaced dots, as in:

    “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my . . .”

    “Can’t imagine who, or why . . .”

    I am deeply offended by your punctuational laxity.

     

    I’m sorry if you were offended by my correct punctuation…

    That’s good, but you should now transition directly to a disquisition about how unjust it is to separate children from their parents at the border . . .

    It might be more efficient if I just skip the next two steps and call you a Nazi…

    LOLing out loud.

    #metoo

    Another #metoo victim of punctuational assault . . .

    Sure, laugh it up. It’s all a big joke until someone gets hyphenated.

    • #21
  22. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    I prefer the Democrat apology: “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my…”

    That’s much better.

    I’m sorry that you are such an idiot. Not you specifically, of course, but “anyone” who might be offended by my very reasonable actions. Can’t imagine who, or why… But still, I’m sorry. For them.

    That’s a good go-to apology for people like me, who are never wrong.

    The proper form of the terminal ellipsis is three spaced dots, as in:

    “I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my . . .”

    “Can’t imagine who, or why . . .”

    I am deeply offended by your punctuational laxity.

     

    I’m sorry if you were offended by my correct punctuation…

    That’s good, but you should now transition directly to a disquisition about how unjust it is to separate children from their parents at the border . . .

    It might be more efficient if I just skip the next two steps and call you a Nazi…

    LOLing out loud.

    #metoo

    Another #metoo victim of punctuational assault . . .

    Sure, laugh it up. It’s all a big joke until someone gets hyphenated.

    That’s when the em dash hits the fan . . .

    • #22
  23. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Step 10 of Alcoholics Annonymous:  “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

    • #23
  24. barbara lydick Inactive
    barbara lydick
    @barbaralydick

    Ah, if it were that easy in organizations with HR Gestapos – those who would demand every slight reported then investigated.  Pity the poor soul who would like nothing better than to admit his (usually) error, apologize, and move on but is prevented from doing so until he is put through the proverbial wringer.  It is the gracious among us who will say to hell with the org’s rules, let the offender know of their discomfort as soon as possible, and if offered, accept an apology right then and there, not allowing the situation to be raised to symphonic levels. 

    • #24
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    barbara lydick (View Comment):
    Ah, if it were that easy in organizations with HR Gestapos – those who would demand every slight reported then investigated.

    So true, @barbaralydick. So many things have to be arbitrated and mandated by the powers that be, normal human interaction has been distorted and compromised. I’m with you.

    • #25
  26. MichaelHenry Inactive
    MichaelHenry
    @MichaelHenry

    SQ: Because of my sharp tongue and  hair-trigger disposition, I have been wrong and offensive so many times during my life that it is impossible to quantify. The silver lining, however, is that I have become one of the world’s leading apologists for apologies. I am  good at apologizing because of so much practice that I have often been tempted to say something really bad to some undeserving soul just so I could show off my ability to express sorrow at my transgression. Apologies are wonderful for the soul and can bring you closer to the dim-witted ass you offended, so as to set him/her up for your next explosion. I try to be more patient with people, but as I hope my epitaph will declare, “I tried to like people, but they’re all so %&$#ing stupid.” MH

    • #26
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    MichaelHenry (View Comment):
     I am good at apologizing because of so much practice that I have often been tempted to say something really bad to some undeserving soul just so I could show off my ability to express sorrow at my transgression

    @michaelhenry, you are too funny! You seem like such a nice guy!  ;-) Thanks for sharing your experience. I’ll be sure not to raise your dander if we meet!

    • #27
  28. Go Ahead Redact My Day Coolidge
    Go Ahead Redact My Day
    @Pseudodionysius

    MichaelHenry (View Comment):

    SQ: Because of my sharp tongue and hair-trigger disposition, I have been wrong and offensive so many times during my life that it is impossible to quantify. The silver lining, however, is that I have become one of the world’s leading apologists for apologies. I am good at apologizing because of so much practice that I have often been tempted to say something really bad to some undeserving soul just so I could show off my ability to express sorrow at my transgression. Apologies are wonderful for the soul and can bring you closer to the dim-witted ass you offended, so as to set him/her up for your next explosion. I try to be more patient with people, but as I hope my epitaph will declare, “I tried to like people, but they’re all so %&$#ing stupid.” MH

    Smith. Wesson. And me.

    • #28

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