Ihave yet to refer to another article when I write my own, but something grabbed my attention this past week and it has hit home in a very practical way.
The Vancouver Sun reported a Harvard Study of 730 people which results are almost certain to guarantee an increase in your popularity. More specifically, the assertion is that by doing this one small thing you will, "increase likeability, appear more benevolent, and be perceived as trustworthy." What ancient wisdom could hold so much power and promise? Simple. Learn to apologize and people will like you more. Even apologizing for things that are entirely out of your influence can cause an outpouring of endearment that bridges people together.
So how, exactly, does someone learn to apologize?
Own your part. You being less-wrong is no excuse for not assuming responsibility for the level of your contribution to the situation. Remember, there is a significant difference between fault and blame. Saying I am sorry is not the same as saying I am guilty. If a baby leaves a rattle on the top of the stairs and you fall to the bottom of the stairs, it's the baby's fault but can you blame him? In the same way, everyone plays a role in conflict but to consider one is to blame is an oversimplification.
Make it genuine. It goes without saying, but unless you are to make it sincere then don't bother trying. If you randomly say you are sorry because you want to make more friends, it is only a matter of time before you get found out.
"I am sorry the weather wasn't good on your camping trip. Do you want to be my friend?" That's just creepy.
Don't mask an insult. If you say to someone, "I am sorry you are stupid," that person isn't going to hear an apology but an affront. The guaranteed response will be, "What did you call me?" Yet, so often you hear statements like, "I'm sorry you took it that way," or, "I'm sorry you didn't understand me." This novel attempt can be genuine but misplaced. An insult, regardless of how it is masked, will only escalate the conflict.
I wholeheartedly agree with the Harvard researchers findings, but my conclusion is a little broader. I think if we learn to apologize we will also like ourselves more. Contrary to popular opinion, apologizing is not a statement of weakness but one of great strength. Of course, I realize that I am probably preaching to the converted considering we are all Canadian and, well, my guess is that most of us already apologize more than our fair share. Sorry about that. I truly hope you have a great day anyway.
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