A simple and very underrated lesson I have learned is that apologising is classy, and when offered without solicitation, is pivotally meaningful to the recipient.
THE APOLOGISER: Demonstrates maturity, culpability, and a desire to personally ameliorate someone else’s feelings. It’s a grown-up thing to do, and it’s what makes you the Nick Carraway to Daisy and Tom Buchannan, who were described as “careless”. The ideal scenario involves the apologiser coming to the conclusion [that they owe the apology] independently. It shows that they are personally aware, and actively trying to be accountable for their behaviour. That’s both impressive and the best shot you have at strengthening a relationship. Some examples of people who have exhibited this in my life:
Littlest Brother- who I think is a patient little friend. One day he yelled at me though, which is unusual for him because we are pals. He said some mean things, which in retrospect I can see he was passionate about the side he’d taken. Regardless, a row was had. And then the most unexpected of things. A few hours later he came to me for what I thought was round 2. But instead he apologised, assured me that he didn’t mean it and that he loved me. I was shocked and humbled. Immediately I felt the love he had for me, and I felt impressed that he’d come to me to talk.
Wait there’s more.
The next morning, he again found me and pulled me into a hug and repeated his apology. This is my favourite memory of him because I could tell he’d been thinking it over, and was generally concerned- even after apologising- that my feelings had been hurt and that our friendship would be affected. That sincerity made me love him more than ever, because I could feel that he cared about me more than he cared about himself.
Fitzwilliam Darcy– I include him as a cautionary tale. There is a reason it’s called Pride and Prejudice and a reason it’s not a short story. Darcy apologises in the same way that I apologise: he is sincere, but he slaps you with a deeper reason to his behaviour that is a little bit manipulative and is designed to make you feel a bit guilty and sorry for you. Just kidding, i wish I were as smart as he was, and I wish there were back stories and explanations as to why I behave badly. But alas. Elizabeth Bennett is left feeling like she is the one who has behaved badly even though she didn’t know his life secrets, and why would she? So you see the moral of the story is: don’t assume your apologisee should have known your secrets and dont try to explain your way out of apologising under the disguise of an actual apology. If you’re committing to apologising, reach the finish line after having run the race. Don’t take short cuts.
THE APOLOGISEE: should be the most graceful person in the room. Allow your apologisee to apologise, and if they get it wrong, justget over it because you should know that whatever you’re getting is the absolute best they can give you. Your job isn’t to critique the apology, nor is it to bring up the details of the conundrum in question after the apology has taken place. That’s tacky and makes you look silly because obviously they are showing that they’re ready to move past things and you in turn are demonstrating that you’re still in fight-mode. Having said that, you’re within your rights to not be ready to receive an apology, and actually it’s your job to not enter apologyland without being ready. That’s not fair on the apologiser, who lets face it, has a tougher job than you do right now.
Also don’t gloat. If you gloat it means you didn’t deserve the apology in the first place.
And also please note that “let’s agree to disagree” is a sentence to be used only very sparingly, and not as a result of laziness.
Some examples of apologisees:
Just kidding, that’s just asking for cans and worms. Ok but here are some people I don’t know personally who are not classy apologisees:
Sore losers on the Bachelor. Just accept that he’s sorry it couldn’t work out. If you don’t have a rose, nothing you say at this point can GET you a rose. Just smile and tell the limo the longest way possible to get you home so he has to pay for the extra gas.
Joey tribbiani (Friends). When Chandler kissed his girlfriend, Joey determined that Chandlers profuse apology was not enough, and that he’d only be satisfied if chandler spent a day in silence in a large wooden box. Don’t make your apologiser work for it- they probably feel bad enough as it is.