Those 3 Little Words

closed mouth  When you’re little, it was so much easier to say those three words. Why? Because it was what you were supposed to say or sometimes even forced to say in order to rectify a situation. You break something- “Sorry.” You slap somebody (accident or not)- “Sorry.” You hurt someone’s feelings- “Sorry.” And everything goes back to normal and the situation is solved.

As you mature, “Sorry” just doesn’t cut it. First of all, if you’re grown and are still handing out meaningless ‘Sorrys,’ then that’s all they are…meaningless. What hurts more- hurt feelings or hurt feelings with a side of a fake apology? Those three little words, ‘I am sorry,’ are very powerful, when they are used in a genuine way.  They are also one of the hardest three words to say. Part of the reason is because you are either admitting guilt or admitting that you were wrong. And who really wants to do that?

What makes an apology truly genuine is the manner in which you say it. I learned years ago that the majority of communication is the way you say something. For instance, I bump you, and as I keep walking, snap and say ‘sorry’ while I’m also holding a phone up to my ear. Would you take me seriously? What about if I bump you and stop, put the phone down at my side, look you in the eye and say, “I’m sorry. Are you okay?” What’s the difference? Let’s start with body language. You look the person in the eye and face them in order to effectively communicate. As you face the other person, you aren’t distracting yourself with the phone, your grocery list, or anything else. You focus. Verbally, don’t just throw out a ‘Sorry,’ because that really tells me nothing. When you take the time to tell me why you are apologizing, then I will listen and take the conversation seriously. “I am really sorry. I didn’t mean to bump you, but I wasn’t paying attention and I was in a hurry. My fault.” One last pointer, an apology plus a dig at the other person does not make it genuine…it makes you an ass. Don’t say, “I’m sorry for not paying you back on time. I would’ve given you the money back quicker if you weren’t such a nag.” I no longer accept your apology.

Manners go a long way, people. If you’re at fault, fess up but be genuine about it. Keep your apology if you don’t mean it. It’s like digging the knife in deeper, and nobody likes a faker;)


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