One of the most difficult things to do is to apologize for our mistakes– and in human interaction, mistakes occur on a daily basis, no matter how careful we are. Sincere and accurate communication is difficult under the best of circumstances because most of us don’t hear what’s being said. We hear what we want to hear. Generally, when we speak to someone else, we automatically assume they’re on the same page with us, and we tend to gloss over subtle details that could help the other person understand what we really mean. The person who’s listening rarely asks for clarification, because he (or she) doesn’t want to appear clueless or worse. So assumptions are made, acted upon, and followed by an escalating chain of reactions until we feel all alone, without a friend in the world.
Online communication makes it even easier to unwittingly upset someone. A thoughtless or simply casual response to a hastily written email can cause a world of hurt! This past Mercury Retrograde period (January 5 – January 25) has shown me how easy it is to offend another person, even when that’s the last thing I’d want to do. It’s also emphasized the fact that “I’m sorry” is one of the more challenging phrases in the English language– or any language, for that matter! But sometimes, it’s the only thing to say. At least it opens the door to empathic communication between two people who have misunderstood each other.
The linked article addresses the importance of being able to swallow our pride and ‘fess up to being simply human– fallible creatures with all the good intentions in the world but not always the most well-honed communication skills. It also shares some ways to apologize that help the wounded party believe you really mean it when you say “I’m sorry.”