Why are these two little words so hard to say?
If someone you care about tells you that you hurt his or her feelings, shouldn’t you apologize without hesitation? After all, those are THIER feelings, and while you may not think what you did was “wrong” or “so bad,” you still can’t argue what someone else “feels.”
I learned this concept from my dear friend Michelle. She is one tough cookie, but if she hurts someone’s feelings, she takes ownership even if she doesn’t necessarily agree with the rationale. I’ll never forget the first time I told her something she did upset me. She listened to my concern, and then without hesitation, she sincerely said, “Those are your feelings, and while it wasn’t my intention to ‘hurt’ you, I will most certainly apologize. I’m so sorry…” I remember being so impressed that she didn’t get on the defensive and argue my feelings or try and defend her actions. She simply said, “I’m sorry.”
By humbly apologizing, it allows for the relationship to move past the anger and/or pain and move on to an open-minded conversation so that you can ultimately get to the root of the actual problem and move forward.
We all know if you don’t have good roots, your tree is bound to wither away and die.
Michele’s ability to care enough about others to apologize obviously rubbed off on me because my husband always commends me on my ability to apologize. Once I grasped the importance of an apology, I noticed many of my professional and personal relationships where in a much healthier place. I will admit it’s not always easy. The Italian hot head in me wants to put people in their place and stick up for my side, my view and my reasoning (and sometimes I do). However, like the saying goes… you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.
It seems like such an easy concept to grasp, right? I mean what’s the first thing we learn in kindergarten (besides ‘caring is sharing’)? “Treat others the way you wish to be treated!” Yet, I’m always so amazed at how hard it is for people to actually say the words, “I’m sorry.”
“I’m raising the white flag,” “You are correct,” “That wasn’t my intention,” or “I’m sorry you feel that way.” are not apologizes. They are examples of one’s ego getting in the way of an honest sincere apology and merely brushes off the other’s concern instead of addressing it.
I’ve lost two good friends over their lack of ability to apologize.
It’s hard to move on or move forward in a realtionship when people don’t attempt to show you they care about your feelings more than they care about themselves. I think there is nothing worse than a person that cares more about his or her own pride than someone else’s heart. I often wonder how people that hurt people can continue on with their days as if nothing has happened. I’m the type of person that will replay every thought, every word, every eyebrow raise and conversation I had if I feel as if I’ve wronged someone. Call it conscience. Call it guilt. Call it what ever you want, but at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do on Earth is cause pain, sadness, insecurity or anger. If I did/do, it certainly is not my intent. Therefore, I’ll happily own up and apologize, so my loved ones can see they are heard, cared for and loved.
It’s funny how your actions can inspire greatness in others. Michelle inspired me to take ownership and embrace the words, “I’m sorry.” My ability to apologize then inspired my husband to grasp the same concept, and so on. I only hope that this post or someone’s ability to show you grace will inspire you to see that apologizing doesn’t make you weak. In fact, it’s easier to walk away. It’s easier to fight. It’s easier to “wave the white flag.” It’s easier to be prideful and not take ownership. It takes a strong person to apologize. If it were easy to say, “I’m sorry,” there probably wouldn’t be this much pain and suffering in the world.