We all know them. The people we’ve met or those in our lives today who rarely, if ever, apologize for anything. Either because they are too thoughtless and disinterested to even consider an apology being needed, or, because they are too proud, or too cowardly, or too self-righteous to handle it.
An apology is an admittance of having been wrong. It’s the ability to see yourself (at least, for the most part) clearly, and to admit to weakness and mistake. It is not being afraid of lowering yourself in humble ask for forgiveness. An apology is a means of saying, I value and respect you. It also indicates a degree of caring and empathy for the other person’s feelings. Apology is courageous. It is a vulnerable act. It also indicates someone having a sense of personal responsibility. Thus, people who apologize are confident. They have a significant degree of self-worth and a decent sense of personal awareness. They contain empathy, thought, and care for others.
People who do not apologize, on the other hand, are either dismissive and self-centered or, proud and self-righteous. If a person refuses ever to apologize, it’s a way of saying, I don’t particularly care about you, your feelings, or this relationship. It’s pride and cowardice. It is emotional immaturity at its utmost. Refusal to apologize is an inability to see clearly, oneself and one’s behavior. It’s arrogant and childish. It is also a form of avoidance and disconnection.
Those who choose not to apologize when it’s needed in relationships are going to struggle in their connections with others.
Because heartfelt apology is the glue that holds relationships together in moments of misstep, error or hurt.
Without apology, people assume (and rightfully so) that either you do not care, or you do not see the error of your ways. And this is a recipe for resentment, anger, hurt, and bitterness to build and eventually corrode a relationship.
Obligatory apologies do not count here. Apology to get what you want also does not count. Saying you are sorry because “you have to,” same deal. An apology is not relevant nor real unless it comes from the heart, from a sense of remorse, regret, empathy, and care.
One also cannot apologize truly unless they are able to look with clarity at themselves and dare to see fully where they were wrong. Even more so, this goes one step further in that it isn’t enough to simply see that you were wrong. You must feel for the mistake you made. Feel regret, remorse, sadness, and guilt for the pain you caused another. Because, if you do not feel for the other person and with regards to what you did, the apology still is not heartfelt.
Lastly, an apology is not the real deal if one apologizes, yet, continues to behave in the same bad way, over and over again. Then, this is a false, empty, meaningless apology. Real apology is backed by behavior changes. A person says they are sorry, means it, and changes their behavior going forward to reflect the sincerity of their apology, as well as an awareness of their poor behavior.
A great apology goes something like this: “I am so sorry for the other day when I made that comment that hurt you. I wasn’t thinking. I was being insensitive and rude. I feel terrible about it. I’ve thought about it a lot since and am going to be way more careful about making comments like that which I know are likely to hurt or upset others. I really value our relationship and do not want to behave in such a way that results in you not wanting to be around me. I am making a mindful effort to change this.”
Variations of terrible apologies:
“Sorry for being jerky.”
“Hey, sorry about flaking out the last few times. Things have just been so busy.”
All of these are lame, and hopefully, you can see why. They are not heartfelt. They do not offer any specifics nor obvious insight into one’s own poor behavior which led to needing an apology in the first place. They do not feel particularly remorseful or concerned. Instead, they are dismissive and dashed off almost absent-mindedly. And they do not own or detail what the crappy behavior was on their part, and how it may have affected the other person negatively.
Kind people offer a heartfelt apology.
Brave people deliver genuine apologies.
Emotionally mature and insightful people apologize.
Empathetic and humble people say they are sorry.
Those who truly value and respect the person, as well as the relationship, offer words of regret for their mistake.
Confident people are those who apologize.
Heartfelt, legit apology is not for the faint of heart. Yet, it is those who dare to apologize who are going to be far more successful in their relationships over the course of their lives.