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How to kill an apology

Posted by Simon Parke, 01 June 2017, 5.53am

Some people say sorry.

But when they say sorry, they add a ‘but’.

Have you heard this or perhaps done this yourself?

So it’s something like ‘I’m sorry for how I treated you…but I had a lot going on in my life at the time.’

Or, ‘I’m sorry about how I behaved…but you didn’t make things easy for me.’

It’s not unusual; and some people can only apologise with a big ‘but’ attached.

An apology, however, is best without a ‘but’.

The ‘but’ is not remotely helpful to the victim.

Indeed, it actively serves to dismantle the apology, offering it with one hand, removing it with the other.

By slight of psychological hand, the ‘but’ turns our apology into something about us, as if we are the victims here.

There’s the whiff of denial, the stale scent of a refusal to take responsibility for my actions.

Trying to put the damage done into perspective in this way may help me forgive myself.

I may well have had a lot going on in your life at the time.

But it has no place in the apology.

So we’ll let the ‘but’ – if there must be one - stay silent when we say sorry, something heard only by ourselves.

‘I’m sorry.’

That is all the victim needs to hear.

Anything more merely continues the abuse.

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