Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Making an Acceptable Apology

For some of us, making an apology is not only difficult, it is so difficult we rarely make one. For me, the hard part is saying or writing the apology in the right way.

Apologies do no good if they are made with hints of lurking resentment, sarcasm, or veiled innuendos. An apology, I've come to realize, must be pure-hearted.

That's very difficult. I often start out making an apology and before I am done, it almost sounds like I am doing it because I have to, or I feel obligated to, not because I feel it and because I want to do it. An apology must be straightforward.

It must not, I believe, contain mention of any of what caused me to have to apologize to start with. It should not carry any hint of "I'm saying this because I'm a bigger person than you are" language. It should not make me sound like a martyr because I am apologizing.

I already know and realize and accept all these conditions for a good apology. However, it is hard to keep some words from escaping my well-intentioned mind.

This year, I am going to try hard to make proper, no-resentment-filled, no-sarcasm-laced apologies, as often as I need to do make them.

One trick to a good apology is to do it early and do it quickly. The longer we wait, or the longer I wait, the harder it is to apologize. The harder it is to keep bitter words about the cause of the problem from creeping into the apology. That type of language would defeat the purpose of apologizing.

Bottom line: I must learn to apologize with a purely good heart and not leave lingering doubts in my listener as to my sincerity.

Tricky. Difficult. And I may have already failed in an apology I tried to make this evening. I think a few almost-sarcastic remarks lurked in there. I think a shade of martyrdom snuck in. But it was a better apology than I've made in the past. That's progress. But I've got a long way to go.

Dear God, fill me with all the love and grace I need to apologize when I need to, and to do it without resentment or sarcasm.

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