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Receiving “I’m Sorry”

I have talked about forgiveness in a previous blog entitled “Forgiving When Asked”. More recently, a fascinating discussion on the words “I’m sorry” came up on the Conflict Coaching Guild on LinkedIn that inspired me to revisit this topic. Today’s blog is from the perspective of the person hearing those words and what it means to hear and receive them.

Some say the phrase “I’m sorry” is overused, being a hurried reaction to having hurt someone, with hopes it will as quickly excuse the offending words or acts. Unfortunately, being proactive – and thinking before speaking – rather than trying to make up and ask for forgiveness after the fact does not always happen when the hurts of the moment prevail.

When we are on the receiving end of “I’m sorry” it is almost as automatic for some to respond, “That’s okay”, or “Never mind, or “Thanks – apology accepted”. However, it does not mean we always accept the words “I’m sorry” and forgive. Given that we all have different levels of tolerance about what constitutes acceptable behaviour, it is presumptuous to expect ourselves – and others – to necessarily forgive things we say or do that upset us and them with the phrase, “I’m sorry”.

This week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog flushes out the phrase “I’m sorry” within the context of your own experience of having someone say that to you.

  • What did the other person say or do that resulted in extending you an apology?
  • How did you respond to the words “I’m sorry”? How did you experience the apology?
  • What was effective about her or his apology? What was not as effective about it?
  • What would you have liked the other person to have said or done in addition to the apology, or instead, or differently?
  • What compelled you to fully accept the apology, if you did?
  • What compelled you to not fully accept it, if you did not?
  • What remains unforgiven for you, if anything, since the time the other person said “I’m sorry”?
  • What do you usually need from other people to be able to accept apologies from them?
  • What happens for you when you say you accept an apology you don’t really accept?
  • When you sincerely accept apologies what happens for you? What seems to happen for the person who delivered the apology?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

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