In an average day, I probably say “I’m sorry” to at least twenty people. I’m sorry I decided to go down these stairs at the same time you did, I’m sorry you forgot to email me and now this report is late, I’m sorry this other thing entirely out of my control happened and now plans have changed.
Tagged With apologies
Learning a language for a trip is different from learning it on a large scale; Duolingo is way too comprehensive, as is anything that tries to build up from fundamentals of grammar. You need a few phrases, like “please” and “thank you,” “What does this mean?” and “Where is the bathroom?”
But most of the time, I needed just one word to feel less like an ugly tourist. I needed to say I’m sorry. Which is more complicated than it sounds.
Heartfelt apologies can be tough; admitting you were wrong requires introspection, humbling yourself, being vulnerable. But the gracelessness of the person accepting the apology too often exacerbates an already uncomfortable situation.
Anybody can spew out some half-arsed apology to save face, but a real apology takes serious introspection and sincerity, and focuses on helping the victim heal. It isn't easy to do, but this simple interactive tool can help if you're struggling. "It's good that you're here," the first screen reads when you load it up. It is good.
Apologies should be pretty straightforward. You screwed up, you feel bad, you express your remorse. But we're human, and humans are complicated. Many times, we apologise for the wrong reasons.
Several years ago, I had a co-worker -- we'll call her Jane -- who was assigned to work with our SVP's office on a high-profile event. The project (and the staff, for that matter) was pretty rough, and Jane would often come to the rest of us at the end of a stressful day to air her woes of angry emails, unreasonable demands and generally difficult people.
We're human, so we mess up from time to time. Apologies can set things back on the right course, but only if they're well-communicated. Psychologist and author Guy Winch breaks down the most important ingredients of a good apology so you can make sure you offer an effective one.