Learning to Say I’m Sorry

Gentle readers, I’m not going to pretend that I’m some kind of an expert at apologizing. Because I’m not. Tonight, I’m a student of the apology.  And I confess, I’m still learning.

Saying the words, I’m sorry are not all that they are cracked up to be.  Often, it does not REALLY help people feel that YOU get what YOU did wrong.  It’s a start – I’ll admit.

But what’s really sad is how lots of people today don’t even bother with saying I’M sorry.  They just say “Sorry” and that’s supposed to make everything ok.

Well, it doesn’t.

As it turns out, the best way to say I’m sorry doesn’t actually require the words, “I’m sorry.”  According to Relationship School psychologist, Jayson Gaddis, it does require that you openly acknowledge what you did to the other person.

Here’s a good example of what Dr. Gaddis means…


Yesterday morning when I got up, I knew I had said too much. I was tired and I wasn’t thinking. I was hurting from the remark I had thought you’d said. Once we discussed it, I realized I was wrong in what I heard and I apologized.

If I could go back to that evening, I’d have stopped talking and gone to sleep.

But I didn’t.

I know you feel that I was trying to change you. As I said, I was tired and I wasn’t thinking clearly.

Now, I feel really frustrated with myself. I can see how, what I said really hurt you. Perhaps you felt that I was criticizing you. Obviously, it hurt your feelings enough to make you feel the need to back away from our relationship. You backed away then I backed away – all the way down the highway.

That’s not how I wanted to be with you.

Notice, the apologizer lets the other person know that they empathize with how they might be feeling. And even if they are wrong in some way, the person who is hearing the apology knows that you are TRYING to understand what you did wrong – even if you are not there just yet.

When a person is really TRYING to understand you, that’s quite an amazing thing.  They are uncertain what’s going on, but they are willing to grapple with the unknown in order to get closer to you and your truth.

So, as I said, I’m learning how to say I’m sorry more effectively.  I’ll let you know in a later post how I did. In the meantime, this one goes out to Carlos: Toni Braxton and BabyFace and their song, “Hurt You.”