Last time we talked about those of us who always feel like whatever’s happened is totally and 100% our fault.
We’re feel like we’re always wrong, so we apologize… for everything. Even for bumping into chairs.
And for those of us in this camp, the task ahead is to ratchet back the use of “sorry” and use it only when we really, really need it.
That advice is for the Apologetics in the crowd.
There’s a whole other crowd for whom sorry is important, too.
They’re the people who never, ever apologize. Never, ever accept responsibility for anything. These are the drama kings and queens who create trouble and then sneak out the side door, or lob responsibility onto bystanders.
You may recognize yourself here.
Or maybe not.
But the key signs that you might be the problem are:
- you have a strong belief that anyone who says “sorry” is a weak wuss
- you’re constantly telling yourself that the folks around you are too thin-skinned and/or can’t take a joke
- things are consistently screwed up and it’s always everyone else’s fault
Any bells ringing yet?
I know it’s not easy to say, “Yep, that’s me all right!” because who wants to think about themselves as wrong, mistaken or – even – as a bully?
Sugar pop, if more than one of the bullets above describes you – it’s very likely that the problem is you.
And when it is you who is wrong, there’s a four-step process you can use. Especially if you’re going to stick around in the situation, and you’re going to stay in relationship with the people in your orbit.
When you have caused pain, you (1) apologize. Do (2) what you can to make it better. (3) Promise not to do it again. And then don’t do it again. Ever (4).
That is all you need to do.
But you have to be self-aware enough to figure out that you are the problem. This kind of self-awareness takes some work, but it really pays off. Check this article from Forbes.com:
“Leadership searches give short shrift to ‘self-awareness,’ which should actually be a top criterion. Interestingly, a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success. This is not altogether surprising as executives who are aware of their weaknesses are often better able to hire subordinates who perform well in categories in which the leader lacks acumen. These leaders are also more able to entertain the idea that someone on their team may have an idea that is even better than their own.”
Being self-aware enough to know when you need to apologize is a sign of strength whether you’re apologizing at home, at work, at the soccer game or at art class. Whether you’re a leader in a big organization or a Girl Scout leader. Or not leading anything at all.
A heartfelt apology is acknowledgement of your respect for the feelings of another human being. It’s a bid toward a closer relationship with another person.
And, it’s the right thing to do.
If you have caused another person pain, or harmed them in any way, apologize. Do it quickly, openly and sincerely. And go out of your way to never repeat your mistake.
You will be the stronger for it, and you and everyone around you will be much happier, too.