My mom always told us, “Girls, when you get married, make sure it’s to a man who can say he’s sorry.”
That’s not to say she wanted us with complete screwups who were constantly apologizing for things, but there was a lot of veiled wisdom hidden in her words. Okay fine, maybe it wasn’t that veiled. The point is that “sorry” is a very powerful word.
When it comes to the business world, and actually almost any area of life, you’ll find that people don’t say ‘sorry’ for a couple reasons.
The first is that it admits fault, which a person who is trying to exert power can never admit. It doesn’t matter if it’s a boss, sister, partner, or child, when someone knows they are wrong, but says ‘sorry’ in every other way except actually saying the word ‘sorry’ (or ‘I apologize’) it’s because they don’t want to admit weakness, which in itself is a weakness.
The second thing that happens when a person won’t apologize is that by omitting weakness, it makes them feel more powerful. An intuitive person can see right through this and realize it for what it is: weakness masquerading as power.
However, I have found that in most instances when an apology is deemed necessary, it actually isn’t. A LOT of the time, friction is caused by a breakdown in communication, in which case no one is at fault, and no one needs to exert power, therefore belittling the other person.
For example, you and your partner are having dinner at home later. You tell he/she to pick up some butter. Well, your recipe for chocolate chip cookies called for unsalted butter and he/she brought salted butter. You’re not sure how this happened because you assumed EVERYONE knew that unsalted butter was what the recipe called for (duh!), and your partner literally just found out that there are two different types of butter.
Should you apologize because you didn’t specify? Or should he/she apologize for not knowing any better, or not asking?
No. No one owes anyone an apology. It’s just a breakdown in communication, and can be used as a moment to learn how to communicate better with each other, not to try and break each other down.
And in the end, your cookies may be a little saltier than you’d planned, but who cares?! You’re eating freshly baked chocolate chip cookies!
“Sorry” is definitely a powerful word, and because of that, we need to really ask ourselves when it’s a necessary one to use. Do you need an apology, or a better understanding of the situation moving forward?