The Art of Apology
A colleague of yours hurled verbal abuses at you. He insulted you to the core and accused you of committing a mistake which you did not commit. After about a week, he realizes his mistake, comes to you and says casually,
‘Apparently it wasn’t your fault. Sorry for blaming you’ and he leaves.
Will you feel better? Can you put the entire scene behind you? Can you forgive him?
People often discount the importance of an apology. Can you possibly imagine how the world would have been without Apology? We would be bleeding mentally and physically all over the place.
What is an Apology?
I understood that my actions or words hurt you deeply. I shouldn’t have done or said so and I deeply regret it. I want to heal the wound I inflicted upon you and ensure that we go back to being what we were before that incident.
That is an apology and it isn’t easy to say it. Because:
- You need to realize that your words or actions were wrong.
- You should understand the impact and the depth of the wound you made.
- Your apology should be at least closely at par with the wound you created. Deeper the wound, deeper and more heartfelt the apology.
- And you should really mean it.
In short, Empathy is the key. Only when you understand the pain inflicted by you, can you remedy it well.
I adore people who know how to apologize well and just enough. I respect them and according to me, the way people apologize says a lot about their character. Here are some things that I have understood with respect to Apology:
Apology is an art – Like in the above incident, if you hurt someone deeply and simply throw an apology on their face, it does not serve the purpose. Apologize in the right manner depending upon the situation. If you deeply hurt someone, take the time to sit down with them and explain how guilty you feel. Apologize multiple times if you did something very wrong. It will make them understand how serious your apologies are. However,
Apology isn’t to be thrown around – All of us know at least one person who says ‘Sorry’ for just about anything. I have a friend who apologizes when a mosquito bites me. When asked he said that he was compensating for all the unsaid apologies. I don’t think it works that way. The reason being:
- If a person apologizes all the time, the value of his apology reduces. If a situation arises when he really has to apologize deeply, it won’t be of much value as it is something he normally does.
- Apology is meaningful only if it comes from the right source. If A apologizes for B’s mistake, it really doesn’t count. Or does it? I think not. I guess this must be a debatable topic.
- People could take advantage of you. They would always expect you to apologize and get some ego boost for themselves as you anyway throw apologies around.
- It brings down your confidence. You feel responsible for apologizing every time something goes wrong and eventually you’d end up feeling guilty for mistakes you did not make.
Apology need not be verbal – In some cases, you don’t even have to say sorry. When my sister and I fight, we end up apologizing. But I have noticed that even before I say Sorry, when I just go to her and kiss her, she smiles back. Sometimes, we just start talking normally as though nothing happened.
You need not say the words if the situation wasn’t that bad, you could just make them some tea, give them a chocolate, a gift or just a hug.
Your Right Might be Another’s Wrong – You might end up in a situation where you feel your actions weren’t wrong. A joke you said must have been funny for you but hurtful for the other. The greatness lies in understanding that it did hurt another and apologizing even if you don’t think it was wrong. I am not referring to a misunderstanding. I am referring to a situation where the same sentence/action hit deeper than intended because human temperaments and sensitivities vary.
Apology is a bridge in relationships – Think of it as glue. A really bad fight happens and the two of you drift apart. You apply the right amount of apology between the two of you in the right manner and the two of you join back together. If it is a really close relationship, it is alright even if you apologize when the mistake isn’t yours. It shows that you value the relationship more.
Apology says a lot about your character – I understand people from the way they apologize. If you are a person that does not apologize at all, it means you value your ego more than relationships. If you casually apologize after hurting someone badly, it means you have no empathy and/or you haven’t understood the other person properly and/or you really don’t care about the other person’s feelings. If you know to tone down and tone up your apology with every situation, you are sensitive to people, to their feelings and value them a lot.
A Real Apology is When You Change Yourself – if the situation warrants a change. If you made a mistake because of a bad habit and you apologize for it, the apology holds good only if you take positive measures to get rid of the bad habit. Simple?
Next time you fight with someone you love, try changing the way you apologize and see the difference it makes. Before I end this post let me say one more thing. Sometimes people don’t apologize at all. Sometimes, you might have to move on without receiving the apology you deserve. In such cases let time heal the wound and ensure that you don’t leave anyone else hanging without giving them the apology they deserve.
I think you can win friends and hearts more from apologizing than from arguing. What do you think?