Why is it so hard to say “I’m sorry?” Two little words that should so easily roll off the tongue. And they do — if it’s not important. As in, “Oh, sorry, can I just grab that?” or “Oops, sorry, I just dropped your cookie.”
But when it comes to apologizing for something bigger than spilled milk, it’s a struggle. When’s the last time you heard of a teenager who calmly said, “Hey Mom, sorry I gave you so much attitude earlier.”
Yet that one little word can make all the difference to the person who’s been affected. Say you have an argument with your partner just before bed. You can either go to sleep with your backs turned and angry, or one of you can bite the bullet, apologize, and then you can snuggle all night long.
I know which option I’d choose.
The problem is some people feel apologizing is a sign of weakness, when, in fact, it’s a sign of strength. It takes courage to own up to making a mistake — big or small.
Sometimes, when a person slips up, and then realizes it, they agonize over the potential damage caused. The more they mull it over in their own heads, the bigger the issue becomes. And the bigger it gets, the harder it seems to admit to it.
Or they brush it from their mind because they can’t be bothered — or are afraid — to deal with the emotions involved in saying sorry.
And many people have trouble with the idea of losing face by having to say they’re sorry. But there are many ways to apologize without eating crow.
There’s no rule that states, to apologize, you need to go back over the argument. You can just as easily start another conversation, like, “which movie would you like to see this afternoon?” or, “how about ordering pizza for dinner?”
Switching gears can completely change the tone of the day, and is a subtle indication you’re moving on from the argument. It doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten the issue, or have given in to the other person’s way of thinking. It simply shows the other person you don’t wish to wallow.
Also, there are so many benefits to saying sorry that people neglect to consider: First of all, apologizing diffuses any tense situation. Secondly, it leads by example. Even if you’re not the one who caused the disagreement, if you express regret that there was an argument at all, the other person realizes that having harmony is much more pleasant than discord. Thirdly, it’s a model for any future conflict — it doesn’t always matter who’s right and who’s wrong. As Dr. Phil says, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?”
But there’s another benefit to apologizing that needs no further explanation, and that is ... makeup sex.