How often nowadays do we apologize for our acts or for how we make another person feel. I can tell you, not so often anymore and most likely not often enough. Why does it seem to be more difficult to admit our mistakes, or even to make someone else feel understood. Is it our egos that cannot handle this state of submissiveness? Or is it because we have been taught this way. But what if it indirectly helps us as well? To be able to apologize. What if it makes us all feel better and makes space to grow? To understand and forgive, to move on and learn. I believe it requires strenght to apologize. I will explain.
Imagine one situation where you had a fight with a family member or your partner for example. And you were both stubborn at first, not apologizing, not admitting mistakes. After a long back and forth of words comes the silence. And then we take a moment to reflect and evaluate our anger. Was it really necessary? Isn't it just a stupid thing we are arguing about? Then your opponent decided to say; I might reacted a bit too aggressive, I am feeling a bit tense lately, I am sorry.' And what happens next? You feel relieved, and now you feel it is your turn to apologize; Yeah, I am sorry too. I should not have brought up....'. And suddenly, you feel strongly connected again, you sit down and talk it out. Maybe you still did not agree 100%, but at least the heat of the conversation is taken away. Maybe you even felt stronger for that person afterwards and your respect grew, just for having solved the problem together.
Various situations can affect how we feel and how we react on incentives, which can cause arguments with the people that are the closest to us and who have nothing to do with our emotional state. Mostly they just accidentally activate a trigger, that makes us upset or emotional. Our brain is messing with us at those moments, as it seems to us that the person in front of us is the culprit. However, when we take a moment to breathe, to analyze the situation and our emotional state, we can come to some enlightening conclusion sometimes of why we act and feel a certain way.
I am not saying that every argument is triggered by outside sources. Maybe there is an issue in the relationship that needs to be solved and talked about. Once several happenings pile up and we feel tense, we should take a moment to address this to the other person. Even before, things escalate and turn into a real fight.
A smaller example with less personal impact, is when someone bumps into your shoulder on the street. You just looked the other way and the oncoming person just looked on his phone. With just a small 'sorry' or 'my apology', there is a slight chance that there will exist any tension. If you would comment with something like; 'hey watch out you idiot!' It could easily end up in a confrontation on the street. Even though you both made the same mistake. We still tend to act irritated from time to time for no reason. Were you having a bad day already? ;)
And what about business? I have worked in companies where they said; we do not apologize for anything, just tell them we will fix it. Some companies decide not to apologize for their mistakes anymore. I wonder why. When we think about Relationship Management, this ignorance is completely against the desire to build strong connections with clients. Customers like to be heard and agreed with. I guess companies are scared to get a claim or a case when they admit a mistake, but actually, the opposite is true. If you are apologetic and you assure the client to do your utmost to find a solution, they will most likely wait more patiently and even feel relieved. Since you took them seriously and they know now that you are going to help them out. When we admit mistakes, follow up and fix it, the chances are much higher that your client is actually going to appreciate your services even more! Most likely just because sincerity, trustworthiness and kindness seem to be quite rare nowadays.
Self-reflection is so important when we argue, actually it always is for that matter. But when we argue, we tend to project our own frustrations on another person. Whether that is fair or not. Once we get into the fight, we think that we are right and the other is wrong. But we have to evaluate the cause of the tension. Why did it affect you at that very moment? Maybe it is because of your own sensitivity at that time and this was just the straw that broke the camel's back.
Maybe saying sorry isn't that hard after all. It is just a word and it can solve a lot of misunderstandings, stubbornness and unresolved issues. It is the beginning of an open conversation, a chance to explain ourselves to each other. Strength is self-criticism and to go above what is happening. We all make mistakes and say things we do not mean. We might feel that the other person is only hurting us, but do you think that is really true? We will never show our emotions the same way. So if you express them more than the other person, that does not mean that you are the only one hurting. What if we all say sorry a bit more often? Wouldn't we all feel better? And solve unnecessary stress and tension?
Here are a few simple guidelines to keep in mind when having a disagreement:
- Analyze the cause of the fight or discussion. Is it really about the topic that you are discussing?
- Self-criticism. Are you the only one who is right? Maybe your opponent also has a point.
- Apologize. Say sorry for things you said that you did not mean or for reacting strongly about something. Or even just for having a different vision.
- Talk it out. Discuss what is bothering you and let the other speak as well. Make sure you let each other finish the sentences before you react.
- Conclusion. You might agree to disagree, or you found out that it had all been a miscommunication. Yes, most of the time it is just that.
Keep up the positivity and good vibes in your life ánd relationships! ;)