The Art of Apology-etics.


It’s early spring. All the signs are evident.  I saw seven deer on my walk today. Little orange Verizon marker flags  are sprouting faster than flowers, bringing people happiness via blazing fast FIOS service. It was 55 degrees as I made my way around the lake. Yuppies with baby strollers, ugly sweaters and yoga pants were popping like ticks from their SmartCars and hybrids, for a little springtime exercise. I even spotted a fresh young chicken pot pie, which had shed its metallic shell, to warm itself on sidewalk. Brochures around the lake in weatherproof boxes entitled “How to Identify Garlic Mustard: a Step-by-Step Guide.” Yep. Stuff You didn’t know you didn’t need to know, sprouting up everywhere. Spring is here.

Oh, and I apologized today.

Have you ever received a really, really good apology? There’s an art to it, and I think it takes practice. It’s not something we’re naturally trained to do. Politicians are groomed not to apologize; to never back away from their stated arrogance. That’s the cultured we find ourselves in today.

And then, the other day, a co-worker pulled me aside and said “I’m going to apologize to Bob [not his real name]. Want to watch?” I smiled, thinking he was about to begin a rather elaborate practical joke. To my surprise, he walked up to Bob and said “I want to apologize for yelling at you just then. It was inappropriate, especially in front of the customers, and I want you to know I appreciate your hard work.”

Wow. The power in 20 words. My co-worker alleviated the situation, in public, put a smile on everyone’s face, showed sincerity, and moved on. A situation that may have festered for months was repaired, and in all probability, left Bob with a warm glow from the goodwill. That feeling may last, and carry over to other situations, for a couple weeks.

So, after my ragged performance at work yesterday, I decided I needed to make an apology of my own. I did the same thing, publicly, tried to make it heartfelt, and let him know (I hope) that I was sincere. I think it worked. I’m no expert.

We aren’t exactly able to do this. On a natural level, we want to defend ourselves, to be right, and to let others know how right we are. We feel the need to entrench ourselves, to build up a wall so we can’t be hurt back. Like most paradoxes life, this is exactly the opposite approach we should be taking. It’s an obtrusive and gory metaphor, but apologizing feels (to me) like tearing something out of yourself. If you bare your need to make things right, maybe the one you slighted will understand. Maybe not. But if you don’t give it your best shot, you’ll never know.

It’s really all I have to say today. If swallows can build nests out of mud and spit, I suppose with words, I can assemble something that might make a difference on occasion. That’s my only goal with this blog, ya know. That and, just maybe, to make people laugh and have a better day.

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2 thoughts on “The Art of Apology-etics.”

  1. Wow, this is really good advice. I will use it if I am ever wrong.

    Actually, this is a really interesting topic that I will, without apology, steal for my own blog. Seriously.

    Like

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