(No) Apologies

I once participated in an amazing workshop on giving good apologies. There’s barely anything more important for the strength of a relationship than a good apology. And I’m definitely not all that great at giving them.

I can get behind the “rules”. Don’t add on a “but”, don’t over apologize, address how you will change your behaviour, etc. But the thing that trips me up the most is that sometimes people don’t want to hear my apology.

I’m sorry but what?

I get brave enough to own up to what I’ve done (it is much easier to resort to defensiveness) and you decide that that’s not worth your time? Ouch. Aren’t genuine apologies supposed to make everything better?

Space, Luke, space… Sometimes people need that.

It’s hard for me to not read “I need space from this” as an excuse to just avoid it. To end the conversation and move on so that you don’t have to address the icky feelings. This is especially difficult for me when I am willing to put my entire self out there and try to rebuild what we had and you said “Nah, I don’t want to hear that right now”. OK… so obviously you don’t care like I do!

I have to keep reminding myself that that’s not necessarily true. People can still care about healing the wounds in a relationship but also need time to think about everything.

I was in a situation recently where people said they needed space from the issue, an issue that involved me and another person, but I very clearly saw them not taking space from the other person. They didn’t want space from the situation, they wanted space from me. I was worried that in that time apart opinions and confabulations about my reputation were being shaped — stories that contradicted my core values.

I guess I just have to… let that happen…?

Anyway. Apologies are good to learn about. Have a listen to Brené Brown’s podcast Unlocking Us, specifically the episode with Harriet Lerner. As creators and collaborators we’re bound to upset each other at some point. Apologizing is a necessary skill. But sometimes it’s good to know when apologizing… isn’t welcome.



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