I’ve got a lot to be grateful for. In fact, I could make a list that would cause you to scroll and scroll and scroll.
But you know one of the things I’m most grateful for?
The ability to correct my mistakes.
Like most humans, I screw up a lot. I say stupid, insensitive things. I make bad decisions. I take unnecessary risks. I act without thinking about the consequences.
Just ask my wife.
I’m not kidding about that. Oh, you’d definitely get a laugh out of her, but she’d quickly admit I do all of the above and more.
But I think she’d also tell you that I am quick to apologize and try to fix things when I do mess up.
I wasn’t always that way. I used to stick to my guns when I was guilty of wrongdoing. But that never solved anything, and always made a bad situation even worse (and last way too long). It was way more important to be “right”, even when I wasn’t. Ego, apparently, fancies himself a gunslinger.
Thankfully, I discovered two magic words that now put the guns back in their holsters and help correct a multitude of stupidity:
I use those words quite liberally and frequently now. But I only use them if I mean them. An insincere apology only adds fuel to the fire, or causes the fire to smolder and flare up again later. Saying “I’m sorry” just to stop an argument or avoid getting in trouble is manipulative and selfish. It’s what toddlers do to avoid getting put in time out.
A sincere apology, however, defuses anger, halts battles, and speeds up the healing process exponentially. And a sincere apology followed by a positive change in behavior? Well, that’s like a doggone miracle cure.
And yet, very few people muster the courage to utter these magic words.
I get it — it feels as though you’ll be giving away your power, or that you’ll somehow “lose” by being the one to apologize. I guarantee that the EXACT OPPOSITE happens. When you offer a sincere apology, you become 100% in control at that moment — not of the outcome or the other person’s response — in complete control of yourself and your integrity. That’s not a weak position at all. It’s the most empowering position there is.
By the way, even though many situations require action and change after an apology, I’ve discovered that sometimes an apology is all that is needed to repair the damage I may have caused. Mostly because the positive change has already occurred before the words are spoken.
One more thing: if you’re thinking right now, “Oh, I know somebody who really needs to read this!”, let me ask you: is there any possibility that they might be thinking the same thing about you?
Maybe it’s time to put the guns down and say the magic words instead.