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Two Words That Can Change Your Life

Friday, 15 August 2014 | Tags: , , , ,
I’m sorry. It’s a powerful phrase. Perhaps even more meaningful than those other 3 little words.
     
As Canadians we’re known for being quick with an apology. And in everyday life it’s a description that fits. I’m constantly making unnecessary apologies for little everyday things. I’m sorry, are you next? Hi, sorry, can I get some help with my bags? It drives me crazy and I’m on a mission to drop it from my knee jerk vocabulary.
     
But when it comes to real apologies – the kind that actually matter to people – we’re definitely not living up to our reputation as a nation of apologizers. Case in point is this week’s concession kerfuffle between Toronto city Councillor Doug Ford and the city’s outgoing Chief of Police, Bill Blair.
     
The chief demanded a mea culpa from Ford for accusations the councillor made about the chief leaking information to the press. It took two attempts for Ford to get it right. I think everyone on earth can relate to wanting an apology and either not getting it at all or worse, getting one that is unsatisfactorily laced with lame excuses.
 
Not giving an apology where one is due is based on pride, a big fat ego and arrogance. But getting over yourself can set you free, because both giving and receiving an apology can have emotional and physical benefits (research shows it lowers blood pressure and slows the heart rate). Giving an apology frees us from the guilt we feel from hurting someone and helps us develop a deep sense of self respect. Further, it allows us to stay connected to the most important people in our lives by allowing us to be vulnerable. Ever notice that when you’ve wronged someone you automatically distance yourself from them?
 
By apologizing you are showing respect for another person and acknowledging they have a reason to be hurt and angry. It helps them move forward and to no longer see you as a threat. When you say I’m sorry the person on the receiving end will develop empathy and see you as fallible and human.
 
With all that power, it makes me wonder why so few genuine apologies are delivered. Do we all just think we’re right all the time? If you’ve got something to say sorry for, remember this:
 
First you need to make full acknowledgment of your offense. “I’m sorry I was late and caused us to miss our reservation.” Never use the word “if”. As in, “I’m sorry IF you are offended”. That statement says you take no responsibility.
 
Then you need to remember the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Never ruin an apology with an excuse” and provide an explanation for your actions. This will help both you and your victim understand why you behaved the way you did. But this is about your core personality and not about making excuses. “I’m sorry, BUT” is an excuse and only diminishes another person’s feelings. Figure out the underlying problem, then explain it along with what you intend to do to prevent making the same mistake in the future. 
 
Then it is critical to show remorse.”I’m sorry you feel that way” not only deflects responsibility, but also sends the message that you don’t value the other person’s feelings. Without remorse it is very unlikely you will repair the damage.
 
And finally, ask if there is anything you can do to make up for what you’ve done.
 
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To apologize to naps check out  Look Human, and if you need the “I’m sorry I was such a jackass” card, find it here on ETSY
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