I think the apology is probably the hardest lesson of all. We learn at an early age that saying you’re sorry means admitting to doing something wrong — and who wants to do that?
I was watching my kids talk together the other day and my youngest said something mean to my oldest. I, of course, stepped in to correct the behavior by telling her to say she was sorry for the words she used. I was asking the impossible. I also wasn’t prepared for the mental battle I had so innocently fallen into. (I work with children, I should know better than to get in a battle of wits with them — especially my own.) So there we sat, her avoiding my eyes and me trying to explain feelings and emotions and being sorry.
The apology isn’t one of those things I’ve ever had trouble with — I’ve always been ready to say I was sorry when someone thought I needed to. I have even caught myself saying I was sorry for saying I was sorry (this could possibly be a female, wife, mother, daughter type of phenomenon).
There are definite protocol to the appropriate apology. An apology followed by a “but” never ends well. An apology preceded by “because you did…” never ends well. An apology that includes the phrase “I wouldn’t have done that if you hadn’t have …”, well, you get the point.
According to google: Apology usually applies to an expression of regret for a mistake or wrong with implied admission of guilt or fault and with or without reference to mitigating or extenuating circumstances.
So, there’s an art to the apology.
If it isn’t delivered in the correct tone, cadence, volume, then it loses its meaning. If it isn’t given in the most sincere aspect possible, then it loses its meaning. If the one needing the apology has to request it, then it loses its meaning.
No wonder this is such a hard lesson.
I actually found a “how-to” site.
So, back to my daughter and difficult lessons to learn and to teach. Maybe I’m not the best person to teach her about apologies. An apologetic life can be quite burdensome. My daughter did eventually apologize and followed it up with a big hug. Perhaps the key to a perfect apology is to follow it up with a big hug.