Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Masterful Apology

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The Masterful Apology

Well, yes, I admit. I hate to be wrong. In our house there is a joke about all the Murphy's that won't apologize. We will debate to the end, re-write the story, jump through various hoops, attempt to divert, anything just to be right. But sometimes the apology is the only right thing to do.

It is so humbling to admit we are wrong or admit we have hurt someone. I know what it feels like when I get that little knot in my stomach that makes me want to STOP and not say a word. It feels like a tiny wall trying to block me from apologizing. Hmmm.

I've been in the mental health profession long enough to know that blocking things that should be let go only leads to walls and barriers that are much harder to bring down.

Not apologizing when you are wrong seems like such a tiny infraction. Almost inconsequential.

But what about the build up?

When you hang onto your apologies, you aren't helping anyone. You don't help the relationship with the person you have hurt. You don't help yourself, because really.....that apology isn't yours. It belongs to the person or situation that you owe it to. Eventually, you get bogged down in something that isn't even yours. And for what....10 seconds of discomfort?......Now that's silly.

Five things you need to know about apologies.
1. They take only seconds to do once you know how.
2. They make your relationships stronger.
3. They are the right thing to do.
4. They make you feel free inside.
5. They get easier to do once you get in your groove.

One Two Three - Apology
1. Acknowledge what you did. - "I yelled at you in the middle of the store."
2. Take ownership of the mistake. - "That was disrespectful and I am sorry."
3. If appropriate, make amends. - "Would you like to have some mother/daughter time after we get home to make up for how I treated you?"

Stay away from these "fake" apologies!
1. Yelling, "I'm SORRY!!!"
2. Sharing something in an apology that only hurts the other person. "I'm sorry that I didn't stand up for you when everyone at the party was laughing at you behind your back." YIPES!
3. Apologies that only serve to relieve your conscience. You know what these are. Don't do it!

A little blurb on kids, because I can't resist.

It's no accident that I used an example of my daughter and myself. If you can apologize to your kid( and I don't mean in a snivelling "I'm sorry, Johnny, mommy didn't know you didn't want chicken for dinner. I'll fix something else." way). I mean there is tremendous power in being a role model for our children. Children learn by what they see. There is equal power in showing your child that you respect them enough to apologize to them when you are wrong. If you apologize to your child regularly each week, in time, you will see the results. They will feel your respect and you will get it back. I just know it.

So, here's the thing. Apologies really aren't that hard. They just take a little bit of practice and a little bit of know-how. Go for it and see how free you feel.

Got Questions? You can go to the contact sheet on my website and ask away!

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