I recently spoke to Jeremy Glass, a writer for Thrillist who was looking to figure out what mistakes people made when apologizing to their lovers and/or significant others. IOW: How and why your apology sux!
Jeremy incorporated my insights into a super cute and useful piece – “Your Apology Sucks: Mistakes You’re Making When Trying to Say ‘Sorry’” (2/5/16).
You can read Jeremy’s piece here…
…and here’s our conversation in full (below) – what do you think?
Thrillist/JG: What do you think is the biggest mistake guys make when saying sorry?
DrCT: I think the biggest mistake anyone can make when apologizing is not actually meaning it – apologizing automatically or out of feeling obligated. Apologizing when one is in the wrong is a healthy thing to do, but we are also a bit programed to punctuate the end of an issue with an apology. So when one is apologizing ‘just because’ – because they feel like they have to or because that’s what expected – the issue at hand, which may be a part of a wider problem, is actually not being addressed.
Thrillist/JG: What can we do to fix this?
DrCT: One way to fix this is to fight the impulse. If you feel yourself starting out a heated conversation with something like ‘Look, I’m sorry but…’ maybe take a beat. Are you really apologizing when you’re ‘sorry, but…’? Because we are so conditioned to apologize (and also because it’s difficult to see someone upset), this is challenging. But taking a moment to engage and think through an issue, understand what happened, and determine if you are in fact actually sorry is important. This is not easy, but it can help people get to the root of an issue.
Thrillist/JG: What do you think is the biggest mistake women make when saying sorry?
DrCT: Another big ‘apology mistake’ is internalizing or holding on to the issue. If someone apologizes, it’s sometimes regarded as a confession. But holding on to that ‘confession’ – either as something that has greater meaning for your sense of self or as a weapon to be used in future arguments – is not a productive practice. Though it’s just as challenging as not automatically apologizing, making the effort to not let an argument mean more than it actually does is helpful.
Thrillist/JG: Best piece of advice for couples who argue a lot?
DrCT: Take a breath. A lot of the time, it seems like arguments come from miscommunication or moments of disconnect wherein one partner is not necessarily reading their partner accurately. It’s true that tiny arguments can be signs of bigger issues and it’s also true that tiny arguments can in of themselves be very significant, but taking a moment to assess the situation (vs automatically falling into ‘program mode’) and talk it through – though challenging – is really beneficial. Sometimes we may not like what we find, but getting to the root of an issue will contribute to greater wellbeing overall.
(pictured: your apology sux, image via Thrillist)
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