First off, if you’re willing to say, “I’m sorry” in your relationships, I salute you. You’re likely a solid human being doing your best to be kind and learn from your goof-ups.
It’s not always easy saying “I’m sorry”. It takes humility. It takes having a decent amount of awareness about how your actions affect another person. It takes guts.
Because it’s hard, and because you’re a solid human being, it’s tempting to deliver what I call the “I’m sorry” bomb.
You’ve experienced it before. A quick “I’m sorry” delivered with the same emotional connection as a “bless you” after a coworker sneezes.
Have you ever felt you wanted to express your regret, but because it’s hard, you dropped an “I’m sorry” bomb then ran the other way? I’ve done it, so you’re not alone.
Saying I’m sorry is hard. We get tongue tied. What we really want to say usually doesn’t become clear until it’s too late. Plus the words can come out all jumbled. And what’s up with that tight band around your throat when trying to do it?
So, because of all those weird feelings, we package a quick “I’m sorry”, dump it on the front steps of the other person, and get away as fast as we can.
Phew, done…not so fast…
Let’s face it, this sort of apology is done for our own comfort, and not with much consideration for the person receiving it.
They’re left holding the package. “Great, I have this package, now what do I do with it?!?”
There’s another approach.
Instead of dropping the “I’m sorry” bomb, ask for forgiveness.
“I ___(screwed up, yelled, was careless…fill in the blank___, please forgive me.”
Acknowledge what you did and ask for forgiveness.
Instead of dropping a bomb, you’ll be opening a dialog. The other person has a chance to feel heard. They’re given a choice.
Can it feel intimidating to ask for forgiveness?
You bet it can!
There’s the chance the other person might say some things that are hard to hear.
There’s even the chance they could say, “no”. But guess what, that’s their choice.
And even if they initially say no, you’ve done more to prove you care about them and the relationship than you do when you drop the “I’m sorry” bomb.
I’m willing to bet when you ask for forgiveness and follow it up with action that proves you meant it, the person will come around and forgive you.
Try it, and watch it take your relationships to a new level.
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