Imperfect Phrases For Relationships

101 COMMON Things You Should Never Say TO Someone Important To You...And What To Say Instead

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He holds a Masters Degree in Applied Psychology, and has taught clinical and counselling psychology at the college level.

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 Examples of the "Sorry But" Syndrome:

· I’m sorry you feel that way, but I didn’t mean to insult you.

· I’m sorry, but you are being so unreasonable.

· I’m sorry. I’m just telling you the way it is.


There are two ways you might use this kind of phrase. In the first example, above, it’s an attempt to apologise, but by adding the “but”, the sense of “apology” is ruined. “BUT”, in the middle of an apology renders it worse than useless.

In the second and third examples above, it’s pretty clear that the person isn’t sorry at all, but is using the “sorry”, to continue to say something under cover of a supposed apology. Nobody buys this approach.

If you “apologize” and include the but, you will find the other person learns your apologies are fake and you use them to manipulate people, whether that’s your intent or not. If you consistently apologize this way to someone, you completely lose credibility, and he or she will never believe you are sorry, even when you are.

 Make It Better:

Unfortunately, the power of apologies to mend mistakes has eroded over the last few decades, simply because most people have experienced insincere ones. So, the first thing to remember is that you can’t forever “apologize” your way out of bad behavior. Neither can you expect constant apologies to do anything but anger the other person, unless you actually do things differently in the future.

If you want to apologize because you regret something you’ve done, or said, you need to:

· Indicate clearly what you are apologizing for.

· Indicate a willingness to change your behavior/words in the future.

 That’s how you make your apologies credible. This is how it might sound:

· Sally, I’m very sorry I insulted you, and I promise that in future, I’ll be more careful about what I say.

· Terry, I’m sorry I was late again. I understand it makes you feel unimportant, and I promise you I’ll start being on time in the future.

 It shouldn’t be necessary to tell you to keep your promises. If you don’t, you lose credibility, and  you erode the sense of trust that is fundamental to any relationship, at home, or at work.

 Notice that in the improved examples, we’ve removed the “but”?

What about if you want to apologize but you have something else that’s important to say? If that’s the case, remove the “but” and make TWO sentences:

· Sally, I’m very sorry I insulted you. I was angry because I felt you weren’t listening.

· Terry, I’m sorry I was late. I thought you said you wanted to meet at ten o’clock.

 In no circumstances should you diminish the effect of a sincere apology by trying to put the blame for your “offense” on the shoulders of the other person.

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