Alternatives to the generic apology(DW# 776 )

Last week we spoke about ineffective apologies and in DW#774 I spoke about the problems with a generic apology which reads like this:

I am sorry if I have ever done anything, intentionally or unintentionally to hurt you. Please forgive me.

I had already been pondering about what we should do if we think we have offended someone that we are not in contact with every day. And some of you have asked this question over the weekend as well:

Agree these apologies are not very meaningful.  Not sure what would be the alternative. Should we just not do it at all?

[Have I mentioned how much I appreciate people writing in with questions, comments or challenges about DW content? Really helps me reflect on how things are landing.]

Great question! Since this kind of an apology seems to be somewhat unique in our cultures, it was challenging to explore how others see or think about this issue. [The closest situation would be a company apologizing for "any inconvenience caused" due to a mistake they had made – and we know how this irks us if we do not believe that they are truly sorry and are just apologizing to save themselves]

So let us together reflect on some situations and see what we come up with.

1)   It is better to clean up our messes as we go. That is if we think we have offended someone in a social situation, it is best if we reach out to them sooner rather than later.

We can say something along these lines:

"Yesterday after I came home, I was reflecting on my off the cuff remark about ….. I later realized that you are actually in this situation and this may have sounded offensive to you. It was insensitive of me to not realize this sooner and I am so sorry. The last thing I would want to do was upset you".  

"Despite my best efforts, I continue to struggle with being on time for social events. I realize that my lateness caused you stress at the dinner party which you really could have done without. I am so sorry that your guests had to wait for dinner until I got there".

"You tried to catch my attention several times yesterday and we never ended up catching up. When I see so many people at once, it can be overwhelming for me to focus. I am so sorry we did not get to finish our conversation. Can we connect this week to continue?" [Don’t say the last part if you have no intention of doing so!]


What are some other situations in which people might get upset with us?

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