So Friday was 3 days ago, and I didn’t post anything…
So today, we’re going to steer into the skid a bit and talk about apologizing! It is a very necessary and powerful skill in relationships. Unfortunately, it’s also a very easy thing to mess up. So let’s first look at a sample apology: I missed my deadline. If you were looking forward to my post, I can imagine you might feel disappointed. I am sorry, and I will try to stick to my schedule more rigidly moving forward..
What’s in an Apology?
The purpose of an apology is to make amends for something. The original meaning was “to speak in one’s own defense,” (which is why there is a thing called Apologetics which is a very different thing). In order to make amends, there are three things that need to happen.
The First Step: Understanding
First, the one apologizing needs to be able to identify the thing that was done. In my apology above, I clearly stated exactly what I did (or in my case, what I didn’t do): I neglected to post a blog on my scheduled blog post day. That is a thing that happened, and there is no emotional weight to it. One can look at my scheduled posting days, see that there was no post last Friday, and say “Oh, Joey didn’t post a blog.” In another instance, one might say “I didn’t do the dishes last night,” and that can be confirmed; or “I kissed your brother at a party last weekend.” The first part of a good apology is clearly stating only the facts of what happened.
The Second Step: Empathizing
Once the facts have been stated, it is time to connect to the emotional weight. While in my instance, there may not be a huge emotional impact on everyone reading, but in a more intense instance; say “I kissed your brother at a party,” there is emotion to connect with. The important thing in this part is empathizing with the impact the aforementioned fact has had. In my apology, I acknowledged that someone may feel disappointed if they were really excited about reading my posts twice a week. I connect that to my own experience, because I often feel disappointment when my favorite content creators don’t update regularly.
The Final Step: Correcting
Finally, the last part of an apology is to establish a plan for moving forward. For me, that means updating on my already established schedule (starting tomorrow), but it may also be shutting down an inappropriate relationship or consenting to an appropriate consequence. Of course, once the consequence has been accepted it is vital to follow through. This is how trust is rebuilt.
The Defensiveness Trap
I have spoken about Gottman’s Four Horsemen before, and one that really needs to be corralled in an apology is Defensiveness. Apologizing is a very vulnerable act; and when we feel vulnerable, we have a reflex to try and protect ourselves. It is very tempting to justify, rationalize, or even blame our behavior on some external factor (I was busy, I was too tired, I was drunk, it was just locker room talk, whatever the case may be). But in order to make an appropriate apology, defensiveness needs to be countered by taking ownership and apologizing with this three step model.
So there it is: Joey’s Guide to Apologies. Made possible by me neglecting my blog. So again, I apologize for missing my posting window, and I will do my best to stay on top of my schedule from this point forward. If I am unable to make a post, I will at least let you know.
What do you think about this model of apologizing? Has there been a time in your life when you tried to apologize and became defensive? I know I have! Leave a comment sharing your thoughts. Also, please like and share this blog if you enjoy reading it!