Communication Tips: Part 6

Mar 6, 2018 | Communication Tips

Communication Tips:  This is the sixth of a six part series on Communication

  1. When in Conflict
  2. Expressing Emotion
  3. Engaging your Partner
  4. Engaging your teen
  5. Establishing Boundaries
  6. Saying sorry – accepting responsibility for your actions

Saying Sorry:

We all have done or said things that upset or hurt the ones we love and care about. That is part of being human, that part of us that reacts to the inner drive to defend, hurt, push away, surrender to anger or get even with the ones we love.

Why?

Usually because we are impacted by something. Some kind of upset in our lives either connected to the person or sometimes not i.e., a bad day at work that has resulted in anger or irritability is taken home and put on your spouse, child or pet.

In our upset we sometimes rationalize that it was okay or that the person earned the words or actions we have presented them. Or that we are too stressed and pressured and that is what made us so hurtful. However after some time and upon reflection we feel regret, embarrassment, guilt and want or wish you could take back what was said or done. The impact of our actions or words has hurt someone you love or respect.

So it only makes sense and seems right to admit what we have done in order to make things right.

So why is it so difficult to say the words that could mend whatever damage or hurt that has been done?

Is it embarrassment, guilt, shame?

Most likely that has something to do with it. Whatever the reason, we tend to let time pass or behave in a way that we hope will make things right or that the other person will forget i.e., use awkward humor, do something to give the message of “I didn’t mean that” or try to act like nothing has happened.

Not addressing our behaviour sets a tone of tension and hurt that carries on into resentment. It does not respect the relationship or the person you love.

So what is the answer?????

Accountability for your actions and a reach out to your spouse, child, best friend, colleague etc will help them and, in the “I’m sorry” will help you.  Being accountable, making things right feels good, establishes respect and concern for those close and it just makes sense.

So here are some things to say and do to make “I’m sorry” easier and better for everyone. (And remember that eye to eye contact is best and very powerful. We all text and email too much so put down the devices and go “old school” – actually talk to the person.

  • I am really sorry for what I said or did, you did not deserve it.
  • My bad, it was all me.
  • I apologize; really feel bad for hurting you.
  • Boy was I out of line
  • I really reacted and that is no excuse for what I said or did.
  • That was totally not cool
  • That was cold
  • Man you have a right to be upset with me
  • I really hurt you and you do not deserve that
  • I embarrassed you and that was wrong
  • I owe you big time for that just name it
  • You okay?
  • I was angry but that is no excuse for the way I behaved

Helpful and creative actions:

  • Post it on their mirror – “luv you and I am truly sorry”
  • Coupon for a lunch/dinner on you wherever the person wants.
  • Offer of your hand
  • Hug – only if they are open to this
  • Doing something for them that fits their need

Remember that any of the above actions need to be what the person needs and will accept NOT what you need. This is an important piece as so many of us do what we think will work because it works for us. So the question of “what can I do?” is a really good start.

Note: Perhaps the most important step in the process of “I am sorry” is behaviour change, learning from the incident and not repeating it. “I am sorry” is not a get out of jail free card. Repetitive reactions that hurt will water down “I am sorry” and harm the relationship.

So

I’m sorry – two simple words that when said with meaning and action will benefit everyone involved.

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