4 Ways to Make Apologizing Less StressfulBy Steve Calechman
“I’m sorry.” Two little words that have the power to head off resentment, derail an argument, or salvage a relationship. But for some of us, the three syllables are a bit too much. At times, we can feel like apologizing is an admission that we’ve caused harm or that we aren’t as good as we thought we were. “Apologizing threatens our sense of self,” says Karina Schumann, Ph.D., an assistant professor of social psychology at University of Pittsburgh. Rather than simply expressing regret, we balk, justify, and distance ourselves by casting blame.
Ego can also get in the way. In times that are already divisive, a discussion can easily turn into a heated debate, where people are trying to score points rather than listen. “Then the interaction becomes more about wounded pride and how we feel about being wrong,” says Debra M. Roberts, LCSW, a communications specialist and author of The Relationship Protocol: How to Talk, Defuse and Build Healthier Relationships.
All that plus the stress of not knowing how an apology will be received can stop us from acting—even when we know saying “I’m sorry,” is what’s in order. That’s why it’s key to remember the benefits of expressing regret: Saying “sorry” recognizes the other person’s feelings and how important they are to you. “That’s how we connect,” Roberts says.
The next time you’re having trouble getting out those two little words, consider the following advice.
Clear Up Any Confusion
Often the problem is one of perc