The Power of Apology

by Jayne Kopp on April 10, 2011

Power of apology, apologize

Have you ever considered the power of apology?

Up until these last few years I had never really taken the time to think about the power of apology in much depth to be honest.

I’m not saying I haven’t apologized before, I certainly have… :-| and it ‘aint’ always easy; but I think perhaps since becoming involved in personal development, I now have a better understanding of the human condition, hence given much thought to the power of apology.

The reason I wanted to talk about this today was triggered by a very simple squabble between my kids.

I’d like to make it very clear, I have awesome kids. They are very close in both age and friendship and very, very good, but sometimes, like kids do, they argue, they might deck on and other, or just be a little … “narsty” (love that word!)

On the rare occasion that this happens, I inevitably intervene and give them a good talking to. Once I have determined who the offender is, I insist he or she apologize the other.

Its’ kind of funny really, but I have had to work at getting my kids to apologize. Even now, it often takes a cooling off period before they will actually follow fulfill my request.

Once the smoke has cleared and emotions have simmered, they will usually look one and other in the eye and say they are sorry. On a good day, they’ll even give each other a hug.

I started this apology training for a good reason:

I knew a couple once who like all couples had their differences, but in general had a very good relationship.

They were both unique in the way that they both enjoyed their own time, but on the same token they enjoyed time together too.

The thing was though that life was changing pretty darn fast. They had become parents for the first time, and shortly thereafter were expecting their second.

The wife’s life changed in the way that she not only worked outside the home but also had her hands full at home with the young children. It was quite overwhelming.

The husband worked too but chose to spend very little time at home with her and the babies. Instead his friends became more exciting, and frankly I feel he went through a midlife. Cars, Motorbikes and partying became his focus.

What I do remember is she was always exhausted, he frankly didn’t care… Spending time with friends overrode his willingness to spend time with the family and help out.

The result was that a minor spat occurred due to his insensitivity to his wife’s needs.

She was very hurt but he refused to see any wrongdoing, therefore he would never apologize … and still to this day would never consider it.

That refusal to apologize destroyed this marriage and the bright future the family could have enjoyed. They divorced.

The bottom line is pride got in the way and he couldn’t swallow it. He also told her that apologizing was a sign of weakness.

I can tell you from seeing this chain of events and other unfortunate situations that anybody who does not understand the power of apology must live a very heavy life.

Let’s face it, we as humans can be a little dysfunctional. We can snap at each other, feel niggled at silly things, and sometimes we don’t think about our actions, and sometimes we make a wrong choice.

Regardless of how we come about hurting someone, we must realize that ‘things happen’ and a ‘big’ person, if they have a decent conscience will “own” their wrong doing and make things right

I understand that sometimes two people can indeed look at the exact same thing and see things completely different. One person might see everything being ‘hunky dory’ and the other person might see ‘wrong doing’.

The thing is though, that regardless of who is right in life and who isn’t the bottom line is that when it comes down to brass tacks it doesn’t matter.

It’s all about being sensitive to the feeling of others. Sometimes a person may feel they shouldn’t have to apologize, or it’s not their responsibility. In this case, I ask what is wrong with saying then ‘if what I did hurt you, though it was not my intention to do so, I’m sorry”…

An apology can heal many wounds and make such a difference to everyone involved. I’m not saying it is easy…and sometimes it may be refused, or you may get a tongue lashing before the other person accepts it… but the act itself is so worth it.

Not only can it clear the conscience, it can reduce a variety of stresses and burdens. It can go a long way in developing respect for the person who was ‘big enough’ to express themselves too.

The bottom line is, regardless of how severe or petty issues are; whether it’s something intentional or an honest mistake, whatever we did to affect the feelings of others should be addressed.

It sure lightens the load we often carry (even if we don’t like to admit it). It shows humility by validating the other person’s feelings and shows your willingness to take responsibility.

As I said, it’s not always easy but it is necessary I believe. Relations ships can be destroyed, or strengthened. If we care about others we will recognize the power of apology and its healing effects for all involved.

Has an apology or lack of one affected your life?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dee April 19, 2011 at 10:07 am

This was a great article on apology. I have been married for almost 20 years and my husband has had many things to apologize for over the years. Problem is that they never are sincere. It is like he does not understand the hurt he caused but rather he is aplogizing because he thinks saying “I am sorry” will instantly fix the issue. The reason I say this is because he follows the “I am sorry” without the reason but with the “but….” for the excuse or his justification of why he did the wrong. To me an apology states “I am sorry for… and I understand it hurt you, please accept my apology”. Another thing that makes me certain it is not sincere is that after the wrong is repeated over and over and he continues to deny it until I show proof and catch him in the lie he still says it is okay because lots of guys do this and I should just get over it. It basicly becomes “unforgiveable” after repeated offenses and insincere apologies. We are in marriage counseling and I am finding it hard to make him see this pattern that he has going. Matter of fact, this is the 3rd counselor because he keeps changing for one reason or another – this last one flat out ask him if he was flip flopping around because he wanted to be told he was right or that he did not having to face the fact that he is wrong or has wronged someone/that he has a problem that needs addressing and he admitted yes to her. Maybe this go round will be different I pray.

I love the article and have made my kids always cool off before giving an apology because if not it comes off sharp and half meant. If they take the time to cool off and think about the wrong then they can sincerely and from the heart apologize to the person they wronged. I also remind them not to make up excuses but rather to apologize and admit the wrong and when possible explain what you will do to avoid it happening again and then not do it again. They must learn from mistakes and then take corrective actions to avoid the same mistakes again in life. As they grew in the their Christian faith they saw that forgivenss goes hand in hand with repentance.

Reply

Jayne Kopp April 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Hi Dee, (big cyber hug to you!).

First of all, thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I hope it in a strange way helped you get it off your chest.

You know… I can 100% relate. Not bashing your husband, but this type of behavior strikes me as narcissistic behavior and he can’t bear to be wrong!

There are a few issues though that I can detect… from my vantage point anyway… maybe because your situation sounds much like mine.

a) he doesn’t place the value on you that he should. The sense of respect is diminished to the point that stopping what he does overrides the effect it has on you.

b) Selfish… too selfish to put others before his actions, hence the repetitive behavior.

c) simply doesn’t care.

d) Again, stubborn and can’t bear the thoughts of being wrong. ie: can’t get past his own ego to neither stop doing the injustice or admit fault.

In my case, I was not worth the apology. It was a small one too.

I, by the way am the ‘woman’ in this story. (just didn’t want to spell it out).

In my opinion, even despite a 15 year marriage, I am likely better off.

My ex will still never apologize… and believe me, it would have been a worthy cause. We went through councelling too. I found it amazing that he would rather spend the time and money rather than just ‘buck up’.

You situation sounds similar.

Its all to do with ego Dee as far as i can see, and not having the right priorities.

I am glad to see you are teaching your kids the right way. I know it has been my mission to do the same.

I believe that anyone you truly love is worth it. With that said, I believe the feelings of another are too, regardless of who they are.

Apologizing isn’t easy… but in my opinion is worth it.

I do wish you luck. Please keep me posted. I hope things settle. Its such a waste of time and energy.

If I were you I’d say… “you know, I’m not wasting anymore time on councelling, its obvious I’m not worth your effort, so you’re not worth mine!”

did I say that with my outside voice? Sorry!

Take care

Jayne

Reply

Arina Nikitina April 11, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Hi, Jayne! I’d like to share what my partner at work taught me. At times, she’d miss on very important stuff and really test my patience. Of course, I point it out. After that, it wouldn’t happen again. But there’s always something that irks me every now and then. Like a missed schedule, unattended email or a question on something I expected her to learn. For each time, I’d get an email that expresses an apology. And always, always, always, it would be followed with the “fault” that she did.

I wondered, why couldn’t she just write, “Sorry about that.” Why tell me she sincerely apologizes for not forwarding an important email? Then she goes to say she knows it affected my work flow and she promises that the next time, all similar emails will get to my inbox right away. I really wondered.

So I told her, “Hey, you don’t have to be so operatic about it.” We laughed. Then she said, “Arina, I just wanted to let you know I know what I’m apologizing for; that I’m conscious about what the consequences are. And more importantly, it’s a message for me to not do it again.”

That got me thinking really hard. But not for long. Because those mushy apologies have never happened in a long time, thank heavens. Why? No, I didn’t stop working with her; she truly meant it when she said stuff about consequences and not doing it again. After that, whenever I needed to apologize to anybody, I made sure I mentioned what I’m saying sorry for. It’s a big help.

Reply

Jayne Kopp April 13, 2011 at 10:26 am

Arina, thanks so much for taking the time to leave such a great comment. I apologize for not responding sooner… :-) I have really been behind the 8-ball! (fault/reason?)

I know exactly what you are saying. I think if someone adds substance to an apology it goes further. ie: your friend recognized the consequences.

Sometimes there are perfectly innocent reasons ‘why’ things happen… but an apology does become redundant if its always about the same things.

Wonderful to meet you. I will see you soon!?

Jayne

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: