The beginners guide to bad apologies(DW# 771 )
Jun 08, 2020
For the last little while, we have been discovering why it can be so hard to apologize to someone we have hurt, especially when the hurt runs deep.
Let us spend the next few days looking at failed attempts at apologizing. The choice of words (or where they are put) may undermine, derail, or otherwise muddle sincerity, and the recipient may be left more offended than they were in the first place.
Imagine we are offended by someone. And they refuse to apologize. The failure of the other person to apologize when they should, can hit harder than the deed they should apologize for.
And if sorry is said, but it is said without expressing any responsibility for wrongdoing, if it is insincere, does not express remorse or if it is clothed in ifs and buts, it can also leave the offended person feeling worse than they did before the apology.
So let us explore the beginners guide to bad apologies so that we can recognize them if they are offered to us and so that we can do better ourselves when we mess up.
I am sorry IF I hurt you.
Such a short little pronoun, but its passive-aggressive power is massive. If can be placed in many places in an apology and each time it serves to offend rather than to placate.
I am sorry If it came off that way …
I am sorry If I hurt you …
I am sorry If you think I was wrong …
You get the picture?
If you were wrong and are sorry, there should be no ifs about it.
Using ifs can also be a way to subtly manipulate the offended party to question their own reactions.
For example: "I’m sorry if you took what I said as offensive" is not an apology. It is a way to suggest that it is your reaction and not my behaviour which is the problem. It is a way to place the blame back onto the person the apology is supposedly directed at.
Remove the word if if you are sincere about apologizing:
The comment I made was offensive. I’m sorry I was insensitive and I want you to know that I will do my best to make sure it does not happen again.
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