I’m in a group of guys who come together through an online forum frequently to share in common challenges and encourage one another. We come from all over the world, and bring varying backgrounds, political affiliations, etc. We also have some very different ways of doing things. It’s great! I appreciate the diversity. I like to be challenged by others’ perspectives and experiences.
Yesterday, a guy in the group – a leader of sorts – shared something with a large number of us that was startling to me – dysregulating even. I was momentarily unsure how to proceed. But then as I regained my integration, I felt the need to follow up with him to share how I experienced it. He was more or less kind about it, telling me “That was not my intention”. And he said “I’m sorry” several times. But what came after those words included “…that effected you the way it did”, “…that was your experience”, and “…it hit you the way it did”.
I’m sorry, but A deflective apology is no apology at all!
Sorry but… sorry that you… sorry if you…
NOPE. Not actual apologies.
I honestly think he means well, but there’s something in him that cannot accept any responsibility for his idea, his choice and the way it affected me. And here’s the deal: If you’re really not sorry, and maybe even kinda proud of it, then can you just own that!? Then we can agree to disagree and move on! But if you are sorry, then a real apology also needs to include owning it. Either way, take personal responsibility. Don’t put it back on the other person! This leaves a sense of ambiguous loss and distrust – which will make for a difficult path forward.
I am reminded of a blog I read some time ago, and went searching for it. I’m glad to share 7 Ways to Ruin an Apology as support for my understanding on what makes a good apology. In my search I also found this scholarly article from Harvard. And I was pretty amused by SorryWatch – a site dedicated entirely to finding and commenting on lousy apologies that take place in a public setting. Pretty Awesome, actually! I got a little lost in that rabbit hole! Wow, people can be so bad at apologies!
Oh, and sorry if this blog offends you in any way…
Just kidding!! I take full responsibility for this post.
I am following up further with this guy. I think he wants to continue a positive relationship with me, so I think it’s worth investing the energy to continue the conversation further. Even if he doesn’t agree, I need to do this for me.
What about you? Ever been the recipient of a shitty apology? What did you do about it?
I’ve totally been on the end of lousy apologies. I let it go, but it makes me wary of the person in the future. Last month I did something that upset someone else and I really didn’t realize I’d hurt them. I have the most sincere apology I could…no buts if or anything
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I feel awful if I have done something wrong, no ifs and buts. But if someone has been nasty to me – I will always be wary.
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I have had apologies that actually sound patronising. Either apologise like you mean it – or be honest and say actually- yes it’s a little dig. I think most true mates know how to do this honestly, just don’t patronise.
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I grew up hearing that kind of “apology”…the kind that puts all the responsibility on someone other than yourself. The “well, truth hurts sometimes” method. “I’m sorry you *feel that way” is burned into my mind. Yeah. Been there.
Another point, though, is that a well-meaning individual might not understand how they hurt you. So they might only know how to say “I’m sorry that came across as ____.” ~ But…you can tell when that’s the case. If someone is truly sorry they hurt you, even if they don’t know how they did, they will strive to understand and come to the place where they can offer a true apology. But if someone deflects and puts all the blame of pain on you…that’s a different story. That’s what you’re talking about here. And it sucks. I’ve noticed it usually happens when someone is embarrassed. It’s hard to admit you were wrong in general, but especially when you hurt someone. I’ve definitely messed up a lot of apologies in my life. But I think I’m getting better. The more I put others first, the easier it is to repent of my own shortcomings.
Good topic. Good discussion.