“Forgiveness is more than saying sorry.” – Anna Faris in Just Friends
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a terrible apology? I have plenty of times. The other person may as well have saved their breath. Nobody wants an apology given under obligation.
But the chances are that you’ve given some pretty bad apologies yourself. You’ve seen the flash of anger or hurt across someone’s face and unconsciously blurted out “I’m sorry!”
The problem is that simply saying “I’m sorry” is a terrible apology.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with those two words. It’s that they can either mean everything or nothing based on your motivation. It can be interpreted in various ways, such as:
- I’m sorry you feel that I’m wrong…because I’m not.
- I’m sorry you’re so emotional about this.
- I’m sorry I got caught.
When we’re wronged, we want more than a trite “I’m sorry”. When someone says they feel sorry, it doesn’t make us feel better. It just lets us know they aren’t an emotionless zombie.
The best thing you can do when you are wrong is not to feel guilty but to take ownership.
Rather than using those two words, start with 3.
I was wrong.
This is a much more authentic way to apologize. When you start with “I was wrong” and you provide specifics, there can be no misunderstanding in your apology.
You’re also not trying to be let off the hook right away. Some people feel that when they say “I’m sorry,” they should be forgiven immediately. But when you simply own your mistake, the other person isn’t obligated to immediately give out insincere forgiveness. You give them the time to process at their own pace.
We’re all going to make mistakes, some bigger than others. If we can learn to apologize well, we will become better at resolving conflict. There’s nothing worse than when bitterness and resentment build in relationships due to offense. Especially when it can be resolved with better communication.
There’s a quote that says “love means never having to say you’re sorry”. I’d agree with that as long as love is never too prideful to say “I was wrong“.
What do you think?
Do you prefer someone saying “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong”?