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Someone who has been close to me in the past has spent the last year being nothing but an affront to me and, more weightily, to my wife. No one messes with my family, I don't care who you are. You cannot suggest that you care for my family and act like that.

The person called me this morning to "make amends," but evidently knew nothing of what that means. I said that before I could move forward, I needed to understand why I saw the hurtful behavior that I did.

"I don't want to get into specifics. I just want to move on."
"I need to know why you chose to act as you have. I need that to know that it won't continue."
"No, I don't want to get into that. I'm just calling to make amends."

No conversation, no discussion. It was more a desire to sweep it under the rug and pretend it's all over and that we're past it. I can't play that game, and said so.

By definition, an amend is:

  1. To change for the better; improve.
  2. To remove the faults or errors in; correct.
  3. To better one's conduct; reform.
Without any evidence that something is changed, different, improved, reformed, etc, I have no recourse but to believe that my wife and my family will be subjected to the same behavior we've experienced. I have more respect for them than to allow that.

For the record, here's how it's done:

Growing up, my mother always use to say, "I don't want you to merely 'say' you are sorry, I want you to mean it, and show me that you are."

What's ironic is that we all take for granted the powerful intentions behind two little words that our society applies to just about every situation in a cavalier manner. From the most egregious offense to accidentally bumping into someone, "I'm sorry" has become our generation's catchall: an exonerating phrase that we believe will cleanse us of our "indiscretions."

Sorry folks, but according to experts, in order for an apology to hold any credence, it must be an earnest expression of a sincere sentiment. Professionals point out that owning up to our errors is one of the most difficult things to do. Yet, they profess that acknowledging your responsibility, and seeking and asking for forgiveness, not only benefits the offended individual but also helps you make peace with yourself.

The following are basic guidelines for implementing an appropriate apology:

  1. Live Up To Your Responsibility: Don't justify, rationalize or project blame onto someone or something else. Remember, we all have control over how we act. Acknowledge that you're at fault, caused pain, and take the blame that belongs, rightfully, to you.
  2. Own Your Error: Fully accept that you were wrong and that you realize the unnecessary aggravation, pain, and hurt you brought about. Showing this kind of understanding offers the other person confidence that you are not merely offering an obligatory apology but are in fact aware of your offensive actions and their detrimental effects.
  3. Be Explicit: Experts recommend avoiding simply apologizing for your behavior. Be specific about which actions you are most concerned about and the impact (you feel) they had. This allows the other party to feel comfortable about you assessing and examining the situation and offering them the confidence that you will try to curb it, or get professional assistance to deal with it.
  4. The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth: Be honest with yourself and the person you've hurt about EXACTLY what you've done wrong. Examine and discuss the root of the problem, as well as potential alternatives and solutions. Show the other party that you've considered the gravity of your actions and WHY it triggered such a negative response. This in-depth understanding offers confidence about your sincere desire to get to the root of the situation and move forward without ever looking back or repeating your actions.
  5. Let Your Guard Down: Be prepared to have the other individual express their disappointment, frustration, and even anger. According to experts, refrain from getting offended or defensive. Remember, YOU were the initial instigator. The other person's feelings are valid and legitimate, and they have a right to be angry with you. Offer them that right and make it a priority to make your apology heartfelt.
  6. Avoid Conditional Apologies: Refrain from "qualifying" your apology based on only certain things you felt where hurtful. Place yourself in the other person's shoes and try to understand how what you did or said affected them. Experts also suggest avoiding words and phrases such as "but" and "if."
  7. If At First You Don't Succeed: Apologize more than once if you have to, say experts, especially if the offense is "serious" enough and the person needs a little extra convincing. Wait for the right time and choose your words wisely. Consider also gestures that will exhibit your sincerity.
You mess with my family, you are persona non grata; I don't care who you are. If you apologize from the heart, and it's obvious that you regret your actions, no worries - we move ahead.

The person actually said this to me in an email afterward:

My intent was to make a sincere apology without anger or attitude.
Here's a clue: if your apology risks delivery with either anger or attitude, then you had no heart for an apology in the first place and nothing is any different than it has been. The rest of the email was just more of the same venemous hubris shown to us in the last year.

The nerve...


Tags: my life
by Brett Rogers, 12/16/2007 3:15:00 PM


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