Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Being truly sorry -- when I was wrong, I waited to admit it.

It hit me a while back that promptly (i.e. immediately) admitting when I was wrong left the other person unsatisfied. If I'm truly sorry I wait until they've gotten their complaint off their chest. I wait until they've finished and then I apologize.

I don't explain, I don't defend, and I don't apologize before they are finished complaining.

A twist on what many advise, but I find that if I just wait a little, it means a lot to the person who is complaining. If I'm sorry, letting them finish venting before I admit I was wrong and apologize, that brief waiting is little of a price to pay.

And if I'm really sorry, it has hit me that what I do is say "I was wrong, I apologize" followed by (if appropriate) "what can I do to make up for that" or "ok, I'll be doing xyz to make up for that, can you suggest anything else?"

That is what it really means to be sorry, and what it really takes to communicate that I am sorry.

5 comments:

Ariel said...

Stephen, I learn a lot from you.

I don't know you at all, but you still manage to change my life in little ways on a regular basis.

BrianJ said...

I am often amazed by your ability to offer profound insight into everyday things. Thanks for this note!

Mormon Heretic said...

Come to think of it, you're right. I think a person needs to work through their own issues before they feel satisfied with your apology. If we apologize too soon, they can still feel robbed.

The blog49 comment looks like spam to me.

annegb said...

I called someone in my ward who I've offended and apologized. I had to word it carefully because I'm not sorry for everything she thinks I should be sorry for. What I did was, like you said, let her rail against me for a solid hour, telling me off in no uncertain terms (she even said "everybody in the neighborhood hates my dog and it's your fault" I'm not making that up). And I kept repeating "I wish things had gone differently, I regret how our relationship has gone and I'm sorry for that. I feel that I failed you."

It's all true, but it'll probably come as cold comfort. Even though she really reamed me out and, as hard as it is to believe, I mostly kept my mouth shut LOL.

Blue said...

i've actually been wondering all night if you might have a post on this topic. specifically, when one *wants* to forgive, and has even said the words "i forgive you", and then tried to carry on as though forgiveness has actually taken place, but nothing has changed on the inside. what can you do? how does one invoke the atonement? for big things specifically (in my case). all i want for christmas is peace and freedom from this multi-decade hurt. i've recently had the chance to vent and the person who hurt me listened, apologized, and then wrote me a letter further apologizing and asking me to forgive them for all the ways they hurt me and it's impact on my life. i have (in the past) said I forgive them, and tried to have them in my life as if all was well. but it wasn't. isn't. so how does one move from this point to a healthy place. how does that mysterious atonement work? is there a magic word i need to utter? some level of despair i have to attain? some amount of humility and contriteness i have to conjure up before i can finally be free?

do you know? seems like you might be someone who would.