Should I Apologize?
I personally have given some of the most insincere apologies possible. I have also been the victim of such apologies as well. In coaching my clients one can imagine the number of times this issue has surfaced. “When should I apologize?” “How should I apologize?” And of course the most common of them all; “Why the h--- should I apologize?”
However, it wasn’t until I experienced the following, in my own character, that I decided to tackle this issue head on.
Many years ago my friend and I, with whom I had a very strong relationship up that point, had a terrible misunderstanding. As is all too often in such situations egos are inflamed, disappointment turns to disgust, disgust to hatred, hatred to anger. The situation deteriorated, we refused to talk to each other and resorted to maligning the other to our mutual friends. As things got progressively worse we began drifting toward the “point of no return” and neither of us wanted anything to do with the other.
After some time had passed I decided to write a letter of apology. I was seeing a coach at the time and was trying to “better” myself. In the spirit of trying to grow I agreed to write a letter of apology.
I spent a lot of time writing the letter. Being careful not to offend or cast blame, I wrote about how thankful I was of all the good times we had shared and so on. Then at the end of the letter I finished it off with this ridiculous statement. This is what I had considered to be the Grand Finale: The Apology.
I wrote: “I am sorry that I asked to share the taxi ride to Calcutta with you. Had I not been so strapped for cash that day we would not have met and all this pain and upset could have been avoided. I am sincerely sorry.”
Can you believe that? Moreover, I actually had the gall to send the letter. In retrospect I should have read it to my coach at the time, I am sure he would have slapped me across the face! Needless to say I didn’t get a response. God knows, I should have been shot for writing that drivel.
The problem with that letter is that I took absolutely no responsibility for my actions. Instead I insinuated, with that statement, that I was willing accede that we were both jerks and that while I was not going to blame him, I was certainly not going to take sole responsibility for my actions. We simply have shouldn’t struck up a friendship.
Unfortunately I did not realize the utter hypocrisy of that letter until years later when I was on the receiving end of such foolishness….
To be continued...