I am sorry but . . .(DW# 773)
Jun 10, 2020
BUT may be the ultimate apology annihilator.
Please remember this: Whatever you say after BUT will negate anything you say before it. The word but in an apology almost always signals an excuse or cancels out the original message.
Here are some ways but can show up:
I am sorry, but you are no angel
I am sorry but you are also to blame
I am sorry but it was not my fault
I am sorry but you provoked me
I am sorry I was rude but someone had to point it out
It doesn’t even matter if what you say after "but" happens to be true. The word "but" does not belong in an apology. It is as simple as that.
If used to say sorry, but conveys that:
"Given the whole situation, my rudeness (or lateness, or sarcastic tone, or what-have-you) is pretty understandable."
It is saying in essence:
"I am saying sorry, because you want me to, but really, I have nothing to apologize for".
Let us remind ourselves that an apology is about acknowledging the wrongfulness of our own actions and trying to make amends; it is not about pointing fingers at other people as a way to justify our actions.
But what if the other person truly does share the blame for whatever happened? If this is the situation, we can certainly discuss this in another conversation or at another time, just not when we are apologizing for our part.
As Harriet Lerner reminds us:
An apology isn’t the only chance you ever get to address the underlying issue. The apology is the chance you get to establish the ground for future communication.
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