The art of “I’m sorry”

IMG_0214I’ve been stressed this week. I mean, every week brings elements of stress, but this week has just been crazy! After a weekend trip to Pennsylvania, I’ve been playing catchup with the newspaper, begging for homework extensions, and stressing over my midterm grade. Not to mention I had to have a some difficult conversations with a couple of my staff. That’s never fun 😦

A side effect of this stress is emotional instability. My emotions have been all over the place. Just three days ago while Doug and I cuddled on the couch, I burst into tears because I “didn’t feel pretty or successful.” Doug held me and didn’t tell me I’m an emotional mess, which was really sweet of him. But let’s face it, I really am.

The point of telling you all this is that yesterday I reached a new low. One of my editors texted me asking a question about staff photo day, and I blew up at her. I replied with a passive-aggressive text, emphasizing how I’m really busy and have everything under control (clearly).

Not one of my high points.

So, this morning I had to woman-up and apologize to her. I’m still ashamed at how I lashed out, but she kindly thanked me and we’ve since moved on.

It’s amazing what those little words−I’m sorry−do to mend a relationship.

But they only worked when used right. Here are things I’ve learned are key to make my apologies sincere.

  1. Don’t use “but.” I’ve found that when I say use the word “but,” my apology is no longer valid. “I’m sorry I reacted this way, but I’ve been so tired.” My editor didn’t really care why I attacked her for no reason, she just cared that I did, and I’m sure it sucked.
  2. Do recognize the other person’s value. When I lashed out at my editor for sending me a reminder, I basically told her that her reminder, and her duty to help me stay on task, was not valued. Therefore, when I apologized, I made sure to assure her that she’s a great and valuable part of the newspaper team.
  3. Do recognize your error. I had to recognize that I was wrong. I didn’t intend to come across as a vicious ingrate, but I did, and it was hurtful. I had to admit my wrongness to my editor by recognizing that my response to her was totally inappropriate. It’s never fun, but in the end it’s worth it.
  4. Do be humble. Humility is so hard. It’s so hard for me to say that I’m wrong, that I regret my actions or words, and that I want forgiveness. But and apology without humility is really not an apology at all.

It’s never easy to stand in our wrongness and just be wrong, but ultimately an apology not only mends a relationship, but grows it as well. What do you believe is essential to the art of “I’m sorry?”

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