Thursday, 28 August 2014

My humble apologies

I'm good at apolog-ising. I'll happily apologise for anything if it oils the wheels of a relation-ship. Be it a misunder-standing, an unintended insult, an error of fact, or an unpopular opinion, I don't mind humbling myself and admitting that maybe I got it wrong. What's the big deal about that?

But there are so many people who'll do anything rather than apologise. Apologies are apparently a huge humiliation, a huge blow to their ego, something they have to avoid at all costs.

They'll deny doing anything wrong, or find some absurd excuse or justification, or say they were only joking, or say you're over-sensitive. Anything rather than drop their pose of infallibility and admit they're only human and sometimes they drop a clanger.

My father hated apologising. No matter how obviously wrong he was about something, he would never back down. He had to be right, his authority couldn't be challenged, he couldn't bear it that I might actually know more about something than him.

I can recall several workmates who were much the same. Apologising was out of the question. It was always someone else who was wrong, not them. Any attempt to extract an apology was met with anger and incredulity.

The one thing hospital patients always ask for when they've had shoddy treatment of some kind is an apology. "I just want them to admit they got it wrong and they have to do better" they'll say. And the one thing the hospital invariably won't do is apologise. They'll prevaricate and obfuscate and do anything to avoid simply saying "We're really sorry, we made a mess of this and it's not good enough."

And while I'm at it, I sincerely apologise for all those nonsensical, long-winded, infantile, pedantic blog posts I've churned out over the last seven years. If there's anything I can do to make amends, just say the word. You've no idea how ashamed and stupid and careless I feel. What a total dufus I've been. What a total toss-bucket. I promise to do much much better in the future.

22 comments:

Rummuser said...

I am like you. I will apologise and move on.

Ursula said...

Dear Toss Bucket, never make promises you may not be able to keep.

There are apologies and there are apologies. For an apology to work it's got to be sincere and, just as importantly, it needs to be received with grace. Which is why I am generally a little helpless around people who apologize for not much more than their existence (yes, I am sorry too you made it onto planet Earth - just relax, please). Which is not the same as those who only apologize to keep the peace but don't mean a word of it. The ones I do feel sorry for who would love to apologize but don't know how. They'd rather tie themselves into knots than concede that maybe, just maybe, they did indeed put their foot into a cowpat.

Luckily I don't find it difficult to apologize providing that there is something to apologize for. And, of course, sometimes we have to bite our tongue and apologize despite ourselves if it makes the other person feel better.

As always, Nick, sincere apologies for my usual outstaying my welcome word count in a comment box,

U

Bijoux said...

I just read an article yesterday about identifying fake apologies. They always start with, "I'm sorry that you" or "I'm sorry if I," never taking full responsibility.

Nick said...

Ramana: Indeed. Why leave hard feelings when you can just apologise and smooth things over?

Ursula: Yes, I'm assuming the apology is sincere. False apologies are pretty easy to spot and don't get very far. I'm happy to apologise for a genuine mistake or cock-up, but I don't apologise when I don't feel in any way at fault.

Your sincere apologies are readily accepted. If you could just keep on grovelling for another ten minutes or so....

Nick said...

Bijoux: Hmm, I don't think it's the exact wording that matters. It's more a question of whether you feel the apology to be sincere or not.

kylie said...

the exact wording is enormously important! as a wordsmith you should know that, nick

susie said...

Don't they say that men have a harder time apologizing? An ego thing? I'm sorry if anyone finds that offensive. ;-)

Cheerful Monk said...

I've never understood what the big deal was about saying you were wrong. But I know a lot of people who insist they are always right and never to blame when things go wrong.

Nick said...

Kylie: I beg to disagree. Something like "I'm really really sorry" can be said in a convincing or unconvincing way.

Susie: I hate to generalise about men and women, though that's certainly the conventional wisdom! But I've known some pretty intransigent women as well.

Nick said...

Jean: There are a lot of them, aren't they? Just why are they so unable to humble themselves for a few seconds?

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Nick,

You are so right. So many people cannot say that they are sorry or apologise and, for the life of us, we can never see why. Over the years we have certainly apologised for many things which were absolutely not our fault but, we argue to ourselves, if this helps everything to move on, then just do it.

Life is surely too short not to say sorry....

Nick said...

Jane and Lance: I don't exactly apologise for someone else's mistake, though if I have some sort of indirect responsibility, I'm willing to apologise for the fact that someone screwed up and shouldn't have done.

Keith Smith said...

I once made a joke about something a fellow blogger said without realising that she was deadly serious. It was only when she told me I was an unfeeling, stupid old git that I realised she was a woman, most of whom do not seem to have a sense of humour.

I did apologise repeatedly, and I meant it, but to no avail. She cut me dead, and banned me from her blog.

Nick said...

Keith: You've now no doubt offended every woman who reads my blog. Of course women have a sense of humour, they need it to cope with a viciously misogynistic world. You should check out Sarah Silverman some time. Or Cath Tate.

Keith Smith said...

Sorry Nick, and apologies to the nice ladies that read this blog. Perhaps I have met all the wrong ladies in the past. It was meant to be a 'tongue in cheek' comment.

I always seem to be apologising; perhaps when I got married instead of saying "I do" I should have said "I'm sorry . . ."

Nick said...

Keith: Research studies find that women tend to apologise a lot more than men. Often for things that aren't their fault because they're made to feel guilty.

Liz Hinds said...

I'm not very good at apologising - and considering how often I get things wrong you'd think I would be by now.

Nick said...

Liz: Really? I would have thought you found it easy to apologise. Another unfounded assumption....

John Gray said...

You sir are a rarity
A man who apologiises

I recognize that because out if the two of us ( at home) I apologies chris never does

Nick said...

John: I can well believe that. I can imagine Chris coming on very authoritative and knowledgeable and brooking no resistance....

bonsaimum said...

I'm catholic, I apologise for everything! Must be the guilt. :)

Nick said...

Bonsaimum: Why the guilt? I can't see that you have much to feel guilty about. You seem to be a sensible, responsible, considerate sort of person.