Open Thread: The Art of Apology

by Kathryn Magura

I screwed up. I unintentionally made someone upset. When I realized this, I had two options: 1. To ignore it and hope it would blow over, or 2. Apologize. I am a firm believer in the power of a genuine apology, so it would have been hypocritical of me to do anything other than own the situation and apologize.

As I went about correcting the wrong I had made, I started to think about the art of apology. What makes an apology authentic? Why don’t people apologize more when they make a mistake? In my experience, an apology can do wonders to resolve a situation – especially when emotions are involved. But alas, people so infrequently utilize the art of apology. Why is that? Pride? Stubbornness? I’m hard-pressed to believe that people are oblivious to the ways they hurt others. Have we just gotten to a point in our society where we don’t give a damn about each other?

When I feel wronged, I usually feel much better if someone makes an authentic apology. I don’t even need to have things turned around in my favor to feel better, I simply need someone to take ownership over the fact that I now feel hurt by them either directly or indirectly. If I am receiving customer service, I don’t necessarily want “Joe Person” on the phone to apologize (unless Joe hurt me. If he did, we’re now at odds), but I do want him to empathize with my situation and help me find resolution. Similarly, if I’m talking to a parent who is upset about something their student is experiencing on campus, I’m going to own the situation even if I’m not actually responsible for it. That person feels enough about this experience to call and complain, and I owe them the courtesy of hearing them out.

So how do you all feel about the art of apology? Are you willing to apologize to others? Why do you think we don’t apologize more?

Open Thread: The Art of Apology

2 thoughts on “Open Thread: The Art of Apology

  1. Ana Rossetti says:

    This post immediately caught my eye. A few months ago I also screwed up and unintentionally upset a colleague. When I realized my error I was mortified and immediately began to consider how to handle it. I agree completely that there is a lot of power in a genuine apology. The key is GENUINE. It’s hard enough for most people to apologize, let alone convey true contrition. For some it can feel like apologizing and “putting oneself out there” means they’re giving something away and that they’re diminishing themselves in doing so, but I disagree. If you’ve wronged someone – intentionally or not – your apology may help restore whatever was lost between you and allow you to move forward. A genuine and effective apology reflects greatly on someone’s character. It’s not easy to fess up when you’ve screwed up, but it is so worth it – both for you and the other person. Lean into the discomfort and go for it.


  2. rcmichels1 says:

    It doesn’t take long for the Holy Spirit to convict me of the need to apologize. I’ve learned over time, and many mistakes, do it and do it quickly and genuinely. Loved your blog about. An important topic that needs more awareness exposure. I think the worse thing is when you accidentally offend someone but never know it. Personally, I would want to be told I offended so that I could apologize even if done so unintentially. It’s an important way to learn to listen to what we say … watch what we do, and how it affects those around us.


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