I have a stack of books that I read for work; in fact, sometimes I have to limit my purchasing as I remind myself to catch up on the ones I have on my shelf! (I have this issue with fictional books too.) Most recently, I read Harriet Lerner’s “Why Won’t You Apologize?” and gained some insight into the art of the apology. Here are some points I resonated with:
- We are all apology-challenged with certain people and in some situations; some apologies are easier to offer than others.
- What drives over-apologizing? We can never know for sure. It may be a reflection of low self-esteem, a diminished sense of entitlement, an unconscious wish to avoid criticism, an excessive wish to placate, some underlying river of shame, or a desire to show off what a well-mannered Brownie Scout is. You don’t need to know what causes something in order to fix it. If you over-apologize, tone it down.
- Perfectionism can make it difficult for any of us to offer a simple apology, because we are unlikely to be able to view our errors and limitations in a light and self-loving way.
- Not everything is forgivable. Accepting an apology doesn’t always mean reconciliation. The best apology in the world can’t restore connection.
- A true apology does not ask the other person to do anything – not even to forgive.
Lerner’s chapters on forgiveness and finding peace were especially worth reading. Lerner’s words are easy to read, direct and woven with humour. “Why Won’t You Apologize?” is a worthy read.
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