I’m sorry is the stereotypical Canadian response the world expects from me. Someone steps on my foot, and I’m the first to say I’m sorry. Then I laugh at myself.
I wondered why I did that and realized it was more complicated than I first thought.
‘National Sorry Day’ is a day in Australia marking a step in the country’s relationship with the Indigenous people.
Sorry is such a powerful word that can mean several things.
‘Sorry for your loss’ is often an expression of compassion. I don’t blame myself for another’s loss of a loved one, but I do want to say I care about you during a difficult time.
‘Sorry if I caused you any upset,’ tells me the speakers have little understanding or willingness to accept responsibility for what they did. It is too general and conditional.
‘Sorry I’m late.’ This has genuine meaning if it is a rare event. However, suppose a person rarely arrives on time and has a reputation for keeping others waiting. In that case, I’d prefer the person just arrives. The apology is a lame acknowledgement, otherwise without meaning.
As older adults, we can take the high road and model a proper apology. We have life experience behind us. We’ve been on the receiving end of genuine and also meaningless apologies. We know what each feels like.
A true ‘I’m sorry’ should be brief, to the point, and specific with a commitment to be different in the future.
It should be spoken in front of the same witnesses present when the words or deed occurred. I confess I have failed several times doing this. I didn’t have the strength to apologize, other than in private with the person I offended. I regret that weakness.
So, please give this a bit of a think. Think of a past apology you made that you are proud of how you delivered it. What elements of your apology are you proud of? Flipping the coin, what are your thoughts of a missed apology or an inadequate apology?
I’m curious about your thoughts. Please leave your comment.
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And my thanks to St. Albert Seniors Association: 780-459-0433 for making this Blog possible.