I came across a post on social media that piqued my interest and got me thinking about apologies. The post is below so you have an idea of what I am talking about. I highlighted the ones that really resonated with me.
It made me think are apologies overrated? Certainly I am not saying one should not apologise when in the wrong. Rather what I am saying is that we should manage our expectations when it comes to apologies. People actually can use apologies as a weapon to guilt trip you or stop you from leaving them. I'll list a few types of apologies and why I feel they are wrong.
It's the 'I will apologise if you apologise' type. An odd exchange of gifts if ever there was any. Is it genuine? Rarely. Often times one party will only proffer an apology once the other party has. If not? The apology won't be forthcoming. Truly, an apology should not be contingent upon if the other party apologises. If it is I dare say it is not genuine. I mean let us look up the definition of an apology according to Oxford languages.
A regretful acknowledgement of an offence or failure.
Notice that it does not continue with ...that is dependent on another party also having a regretful acknowledgement. Basically apologies should not be conditional on another party also apologising. If you are doing that stop and actually truly apologise.
Honestly this can happen in myriad ways but simply put it is when an apology is a means to an end but in a bad way. A person could be apologising because of the benefit you bring later on and so they are hedging their bets and buttering you up now. Other times people apologise to shut you up so you feel that you cannot bring the issue up again if it arises. And of course it can be a way to make you stay and accept far less than what you are worth especially if a person apologises but the behaviour remains the same. The person may then try and be like 'but I have apologised'. Actually, an action should follow an apology, an a good action too. Also, this type of apology can also be used to blindside you so you are left speechless and right where they want you to be (get the pun?). It's all about the nasty motive. Really, if you tender such apologies stop it. It is disgusting and the total opposite of what an apology is.
Apologies that are not really apologies
Ahh, you know the type. 'I'm sorry but... /I'm sorry if...' . I've said it before and I will say it again, I really do feel that this generation has mastered the art of apologising with fanciful flowery words that lack substance and are not really apologies. Honestly there is nothing wrong with a good old 'I am sorry'. It is timeless. Especially if you mean it! Also do not fall into the trap of changed behaviour with no action to match. That is also manipulative too. As much as actions speak louder than words, words matter.
This type of apology could also be trying to say any other type of word apart from sorry. Examples include 'I can see how that could be interpreted'
'I acknowledge where I went wrong'
'I did not mean to say that'
'But you know I love you'
and more. The list is not exhaustive but you get my drift.
We may have the best intentions in the world but it can be interpreted wrongly and whilst we cannot be responsible for personal issues that a person may face, we can apologise for how what we said may have made them feel. Even if we do not agree. Because truth be told if you only apologise only when you feel you are wrong then you have quite a while to go. And that's on some grown up sh*t. It is a sign of maturity when you can apologise even where you are not wrong but you value the relationship to know that it is more than this disagreement. Of course wisdom is needed however it is not enough to just apologise when you feel you are wrong. We humans are beautifully complicated beings with various life experiences and apologies can help bridge the gap at times. I am not saying be a doormat in the name of apologising. No. I am saying use wisdom, be mindful and don't be so technical. Because, as we all know life is anything but technical at times and we do ourselves a great disservice when we are technical with our apologies especially when it does not fit the situation at hand.
The other aspect is being fine with never receiving an apology that you are rightfully owed. I say owed because honestly there are some apologies that you have every right to receive. But what happens when it is not forthcoming or the person refuses to acknowledge it? What then? Do you stand still in time insistent upon 'We cannot move forward unless you apologise?'. It may sound like the easy way out but there is a better way.
Easy to type but not easy in reality. Sadly we live in a world where some people will never see anything they do as wrong. Everything is fine as long as it is their own way. We must realises this and adjust our expectations accordingly. If you have kindly informed a person how you felt and they refuse to apologise, forgive, make a mental note of it and move one. The mental note is more of realising the type of person they are and managing your expectations moving forward. That way if offence arises again you know not to sadly expect an apology from them. Even better you can limit your interaction with them where possible.
So, are apologies overrated? No. But it is all about the motive and the actions that follow. Importantly it is good to know how to move on when someone does not apologise. Life is hard enough as it is and apologies make it easier so if you are in the wrong apologise. Be specific in your apology where you can be especially if the person has informed you exactly what the offence was. You won't die. It does not make you any less of a person.