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Examples of Argument Starters Around Apologies:
· Why should I apologize, I didn’t do anything wrong.
· Why should I apologize to you. I don’t even know what I did wrong.
Are these genuine questions, do you think? Or are they refusals wearing a “question mask”? They aren’t real questions. If they were, the phrasing would be different.
We’ve included this on the ten worst phrases list, because there’s a lot more to this than meets the eye, and a lot of it is destructive.
Imagine you asked a trusted psychologist, “Why should I apologize to my wife, when I didn’t do anything wrong?” What do you think the answer will be?
If the counsellor is good, she might point out that there are two different contexts for any apology. The first is to apologize for a behavior — action or words, because you realize you made a mistake.
If, however, you don’t believe you did anything wrong, or you don’t even know what you should be apologizing for, you can’t really apologize for your actions. It will come across as insincere.
The second context is to apologize for the upset and hurt the other person is feeling that’s tied to your action. You care about a person. Something you did has upset that person. You can apologize for causing the hurt, even if you don’t know, at least at that point, what specifically was the problem. Apologizing for the hurt shows you care. Focusing on whether an apology is DUE shows you don’t care about the other person’s feelings. Not a good message to send if you want a relationship to work.
Before we look at ways to deal with apologies, consider also PRIDE. Is your pride more important than your relationship? Is being right, more important than showing the other person you really do care about their feelings? Think about that.
Make It Better:
· Jan, I’m so sorry you’re upset about something I’ve done. Could you explain to me what it is I’ve done to hurt your feelings, so I can make sure it doesn’t happen again?
· I really don’t understand what I’ve done that’s upset you so much. If you explain, I’ll know better in the future.
· I’m sorry if anything I’ve done has made you so angry. I don’t quite understand what I did, so it would help if you could explain.
· I’m sorry.