The Art of the Apology

by  Master Tatu 

(c)January 2009 All rights reserved This article is the sole property of the author and CAN NOT be reprinted in any format without express written permission of the author.

How to Apologize

People are people and whenever they encounter one another, occasionally they do something that perhaps injures. I’m not talking about physical injury, but words or actions that injure or alienate another. Someone says or does something that harms or offends.

Now one would think that this is basic preschool stuff that we should have learned from our parents at home, but there are those who obviously never learned “The Art of Making an Apology”. I say “Art” because if not done so in a way that communicates and touches the soul and somehow breathes a new and more positive energy; we will come away feeling like we totally wasted our time with this person. It is an art to both ask for and receive forgiveness. It is an art to listen, offer forgiveness and live beyond the pain.

Now I have to say I have heard a lot of “nambie pampie” excuses for an apology in my years. Given I spent the 1st 20 or so years of my professional career involved in relationship, marriage and family counseling; and the last 15 expanding it into the legal services business; trust me I think I have probably heard just about everything; from dealing with the angry child or the rebellious teenager, to the cheating spouse; and even interviewing the child molester in jail for a case about to go to trial.

Back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s I’m sure I have probably spoken or written on this topic a dozen times or more, but rather than go through a bunch of old files, I decided to just write what comes to my heart today; perhaps because since the mid 90’s with the explosion of the Internet, we have a whole new genre’ of relationship issues that have appeared. So here goes.

The online world has generated a minefield of potential relationship catastrophes due to the ease of not being in the actual presence of real human being, and the relative perceived anonymity of sitting behind a keyboard looking at an electronic screen. I mean like who’s gonna care, really? They’ll get over it, right?

What happens is that it is relatively easy for people shoot their mouths off in an instant without engaging hardly any brain cells. It’s sort of like the illustration of how there is only enough blood in a man’s body to either supply his brain or his dick, but not both at the same time. That’s why when a man gets that testosterone pumping (ie. gets a hard on); his head drops, his brow lowers and he is in a state of fuck…. Picture the Neanderthal here.

Same thing happens on line, especially for the males. They get that testosterone pumping and they start typing. Before you know it they are popping out all kinds of discourteous verbal abuse to the nearest bystander or in some cases the object of their focused attacks. They will puff their chest out and show the world how great they are by attacking and putting down someone. Their tools are vile language, ridicule, harassment, baiting comments and / or pointing out how stupid you are for that typo and how you are just not “real” in this lifestyle like they are.

They are people who have such a low self esteem that they feel it necessary to try and pull others down to their level in order to make themselves feel as good as someone else, or they are egotistical assholes bent on being heralded as superior to others, condemning you to their holocaust of inferior beings.

Now with our western society having too few tools in the areas of politeness, common courtesy, and respect; this means all hell can break out in an instant in the online forum; or even in a local real time community.

I think it goes without saying that everyone wants these things… for people to be polite and courteous, but some have absolutely no clue on how to incorporate these basic core values into their day to day personality. Even worse, some have incorporated a “gangster” mentality to there approach complete with their drive by verbal shootings; or the illusion of being a real grand master of the erotic power play world.

Sometimes however a real man or woman steps forward and realizes s/he was having a bad day and see immediately that they need to make things right.

Occasionally one comes to understand that they have a real problem with an issue and need to address it with counseling. He or she has left a path of destruction and chaos in their way. People have been hurt, and not always simply the person you directly abused in some way. Either way they know they need to rectify the situation and make amends.

The Honest Desire to Rectify the Situation

Before any reconciliation or healing can ever occur, one must come to the realization that they truly did something wrong and desire to do something to make things right.

This is the first step in “The Art of The Apology”. This is a real problem in the online world, because that person you harmed lives a 1000 miles away and chances of ever encountering them in person is minuscule. So it’s easy to just blow things off and ignore the person or situation.

If it were something that happened in ones family or locally where you actually encounter someone in real time, the need might be more obvious. After all it is uncomfortable to be in the same space with that person, difficult to avoid the person you lied about or badmouthed at the local dungeon. Yet if one does not come to the decision that they should do something, then it will never go away. It will hinder relationships with others and one thing will grow on top of another and another until it disrupts the energy of the whole community.

Honesty with Self

The next thing I would say is for an apology to have the result one truly hopes for, you must be absolutely honest about what it is you did. To figure this out you must take some time to think about what happened; perhaps put yourself in the other person’s shoes; see and feel what it is you did to them. They are hurt, offended by what you did, you need to find out and understand why?

In fact however you may come away at this point unable to fully grasp why this person is so upset with you, or has withdrawn their friendship and is acting in a very distant manner. You just know it’s there, and you know something is not right. You may have a little idea, but don’t assume. One of the best principles in life I have ever discovered is “never assume”. Assuming anything at this point is not what you want to do. Be transparent enough with your soul, that you can honestly see what is. There could be some other issue at play that you have not considered; be open.

Yet it is a positive thing to simply realize you messed up and you need to make it right.

Communicate Openly and Honestly with the Person

So when you go to that person, it is vitally important to limit your comments and simply listen.

Ask the person for a special time to talk. Face to face, eyeball to eyeball is best, but in the online world that is not always possible. If it is give them a call and ask to meet over coffee one day.

If you are close enough to share on the phone; that would be 2nd best. I cannot stress enough the fact that you need to hear their voice; and they need to hear yours.

So you might start off emailing this person and asking them if perhaps you could call them and ask what would be a convenient time, that you want to make things right.

Once you have come together what do you say?

I would suggest that you tell them that you have come to the realization that what you did was wrong and if possible you want to make it right.

Describe the situation that occurred simply and honestly.

NO EXCUSES.

If you start making excuses, your apology is worthless. You have to truly take ownership for what you did. If you start trying to shift blame in any manner whatsoever, it’s never going to be resolved. You are just making a bigger ass out of yourself.

To shift blame is communicating, that you are not really sorry; you just want it to all go away. You don’t want to suffer any embarrassment for what you did.

So I recommend that you say something like this:

If you deceived someone, consider saying something like this:

“I lied to you the other day when I said (such and such); I know it is wrong to deceive you. I won’t do it again. I am asking that you please forgive me.”

Here are some other examples:

“What I did the other day, ridiculing you and calling you names in the chat room (or on a list), was not appropriate; what I did was not polite or courteous … If you could ever find it in your heart, I would ask for your forgiveness.

For the person with anger of verbal abuse issue, perhaps you should say something like this:

“I was very rude to you the other day when I said (such and such); I was very wrong for saying what I said. It was rude and verbally abusive. I’m going to see a counselor / talk to my pastor, priest or rabbi about dealing with my anger issues. I am asking you to please forgive what I did.”

LISTEN

Next you need to listen. They may need to say some things you weren’t expecting to hear. Don’t let it throw you. If your heart is honestly in a place for reconciliation; your response should not be excuses, but to include whatever in your apology.

You may need to ask:

“What do I need to do to make this right”? …and be willing to act accordingly.

FORGIVENESS

In the desire to make things right, forgiveness is a necessary component in order for the relationship to move forward in a positive manner.

Now, if you are the one who offended another, after you have made an honest apology, there is nothing you can do about this. It is up to the person who you offended to offer their forgiveness.

They may tell you to go take a hike. If that is the case and you have done what you should have done in making an honest apology with no excuses. It is no longer your problem, but theirs. If you however attempted to cloak your apology with excuses or shifting the blame. Then you deserve to be told to go fuck yourself. You are an asshole and will probably always be one.

Forgiveness is a GIFT to you.

In society when someone commits a crime, they are adjudicated guilty and they have to pay some price for their crime. It might be a fine or it might be time in jail.

When you harm someone in a human relationship, there can also potentially be a price to pay. Alienation is probably what it will come to. That person will not want to be around you and unless you are a complete sociopath you will find it very uncomfortable being around them.

So what is forgiveness? In reality, for someone to forgive you for your wrong doing, they are in fact absolving you of any responsibility for what you did; taking that punishment on themselves. This is what forgiveness is all about between human beings.

In other words, you are pardoned for any wrong doing. They are giving you a gift. In effect when someone forgives you they take on the hurt and carry it for you. True forgiveness is absolving the offending party of their wrong.

Society is not that way. You commit the crime, you do the time. If you got what you truly deserved, like in old Edo, you probably should be bound to the back of a horse, a sign hung around your neck listing your crimes and paraded through the town to the ridicule and disgust of others.

Yet to be truly forgiven, you pay nothing. You are absolved of all wrong doing. Life moves forward as if nothing ever happened.

Understand that your victim does not have to forgive you. As we said earlier, if you come to them with a bunch of bullshit excuses, they will know you are not truly sorry. Excuses only communicate that you are ego filled that you want to shift the blame and want the situation to go away so you don’t have to suffer the true humiliation of an honest introspective look within.

They could tell you to go take a hike, and sign you out of their lives if they want to. You cannot control their response.

So when one truly forgives a debt, there is nothing else to pay. If the offended party says they forgive you, but then dish out all kinds of crap in revenge, they have not truly given forgiveness.

FORGIVE

When one comes to you honestly asking for forgiveness, no excuses, no justifications, no shifting the blame; and you grant them forgiveness; that is the end of it.

When the words “I forgive you” are spoken, it means it is over. Now we move forward. We learn from what we experienced, we don’t look back, I’m not going to bring the issue up again; it’s over and we are good.

So what happens if you don’t forgive them? Say one spouse cheats on another, and one asks forgiveness, but the other says hell no! They live on in misery, month after month, year after year. Then one day the offended spouse says to her husband. I have decided to forgive you. You know what the cheater will likely say? “Forgive me? I don’t need your forgiveness, you have put me through hell for the past 5 years, I have paid my sins.”

You know what, they are right. They are not in need of your forgiveness anymore. They already did hard time.

It is true, however, that a relationship may be irreparably scarred. The best example is when one partner / spouse cheats on another. It is possible to forgive, heal and for the relationship to continue and grow and be okay. It is also possible that the harmed partner / spouse may forgive you, but is not willing to move forward with the relationship any more, or it may take some time and counseling until they feel they can trust you again. This is honest reality.

A Public Apology

This is the part that is going to separate the truly sorry from the pretenders, because it is going to involve humility before the community.

If you involved others in your offensive act(s), then you need to make that apology public. If you verbally abused someone, lied, ridiculed, stirred up a rumor, anything in an online forum or in any public manner, then you need to apologize not only to the person you directly hurt, but post an apology to the group. The community needs to know all is ok, so they can relax, breathe and know the negative energies have been removed.

When one involves the community in their drive by verbal shootings, the reality is that everyone ducks and heads for cover. They know what a dickhead you can be and they don’t want to be your next victim. Anytime the offender comes around (ie enters the chat room or posts on a forum, people are petrified. What is this guy going to say now? Will I be his next object of ridicule? Will he try and bait me, so he can put me down and show off his ego?

There is much talk about “community” these days in the alternative lifestyle world. Frankly, my experience has made me a skeptic, but I will buy into it when I actually see it; where people actually care about relationships and not the superficial mentality of “how is this going to affect whether or not I get to play this Friday night”.

So a public apology would go something like this:

“The other day I said (this and that) on this list about Billy. What I said was not true, and how I said it was rude and discourteous. That was wrong of me. I personally apologized to Billy yesterday and he was kind enough to offer his forgiveness for what I did; so I hope those of you on this list that witnessed my lack of courtesy will find it in your hearts to forgive me as well.”

No excuses, no shifting the blame; just the facts and apologize.

Conclusion

Community will always be a myth in the minds of some, or a tool to try and ridicule or pressure others into conformity until people start taking ownership of their words and deeds. Otherwise it will never be any more than a playground for the discourteous, the impolite, the serial bullies and the low self-esteemed to disrupt the simple pleasure of having a little fun.

I wish for more for our world. It begins one on one, honest communication, asking for and offering forgiveness; resolve in your heart to make things right.

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