Living In Gratitude: Heartfelt Apologies Heal Relationships

We’ve all had someone say something that hurt our feelings and we have probably done the same to others.

We have all encountered people acting out inappropriately, either in a personal or professional setting, and some of those individuals never apologized.

Or maybe they said they were sorry but you could tell they really didn’t mean it or their apology was filled with explanations that offered excuses for their behavior.

We are all human and we all make mistakes. Apologizing when we hurt someone else intentionally or unintentionally is a vital skill. 

Apologizing is hard. Admitting we were wrong is hard. Taking responsibility for hurting someone else is hard. Being vulnerable is hard.

But it is also a powerful reconnector.

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Living In Gratitude: Stop Autopilot Apologies

You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop and what you reinforce. ~Tony Gaskins

We all know people who apologize for everything, even if they’ve done nothing wrong. Maybe we’re actually one of those people.

There are times when an apology is warranted, but when we say we’re sorry for anything that makes us remotely ill at ease, this can quickly become a harmful habit, lowering our self-esteem, justifying other people’s poor behavior or actions, and turning us into a pushover.

Have you ever apologized when someone bumped into you in a crowded restaurant or store? Or when a peer critiqued your work? How about when someone did a chore or task that you were supposed to do but didn’t? Or maybe when you wanted someone to explain something in more detail?

This automatic apologetic reaction many of us have is used to diffuse confrontation, placate others and avoid making things awkward. That unwarranted apology automatically lets others know we believe we are at fault, even if we’re not.

And the more we make this autopilot apologizing a routine, the more we’ll use it in situations that DO matter. They also communicate that we’d rather be agreeable than honest. Over time, people will begin to see us as pushovers, someone who will take the blame, be the fall guy or girl and can (and will) be taken advantage of.

Pushover logo

So, how do we stop this pushover behavior?

Have An Apology Recap

When we find ourselves issuing an apology, we should ask ourselves two key questions.

  1. “Did I actually do something wrong?”
  2. And if not, “Did I want to communicate that I think I did something wrong?”

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