I’m Sorry! Blame-Game or Accountability?

Written by Sharon Ellison

A powerful tool for health as we approachrepparttar new year can be to focus on giving and/or receiving only real apologies when we want to heal a rift with a family member, friend, or co-worker. We hear apologies allrepparttar 126215 time, but I don’t think many of them are sincere. An apology has to be real to heal. Trang Lei spentrepparttar 126216 day helping Martha buy furniture and art for her remodeled living room, but Martha never even offered to buy Trang Lei’s lunch and so she felt unappreciated. Later when she told Martha she felt hurt, Martha said, “I’m sorry. I was just so excited about what I was buying that I didn’t even think about it.” Trang Lei did not feel better. In fact, she felt worse. · What was wrong with Martha’s apology? Martha’s apology came with a built-in excuse, implying that however she behaved was unintentional—beyond her conscious control. Moreover, Martha has an expectation that Trang Lei will acceptrepparttar 126217 excuse. Thus, Martha perpetuatesrepparttar 126218 original problem by continuing to be more focused on herself than on Trang Lei. I call this kind of apology “Sorry-Excuse.” Even Martha wasn’t consciously manipulating, her goal was not to take responsibility but to find a way out of it. In most cases, if you don’t accept other people’s excuses when they apologize, they will quickly get irrupted at you, blaming you for not being understanding. When we receive a counterfeit apology we often sense it and so rather thanrepparttar 126219 hurt being healed, it is deepened—as inrepparttar 126220 old saying, “adding insult to injury.” I think almost all of us give such apologies. And we model it for our children. Guidelines for making real apologies: One: Identify common formats for apology that are" counterfeit." If you clearly various types of bogus apologies, it will help you recognize when you give or receive an one. Here are some examples of common phrasing. · “Sorry—Excuse” · Example: “I’m sorry I didn’t call—I’ve been really busy.” · Translation: Please be understanding aboutrepparttar 126221 fact that other things were more important than you.” · “Sorry—Denial of Intent” · Example: “I’m sorry you took it that way. It wasn’t what I meant.” · Translation: I think it’s too bad that you had difficulty understanding me correctly. · Example: “I’m sorry if I offended you.” · Translation: I can’t think of anything I did wrong, but if you think so, I’d be happy to apologize so I can get back in your good graces. · “Sorry—Blame” · Example: “I’m sorry I didn’t call sooner. Have you been feeling

Get Out of Jail Free: Stop Being Defensive

Written by Sharon Ellison

When Marcus and Sally first met they immediately felt like kindred spirits. Marcus was generally warm and open. But as their relationship continued, Sally noticed that sometimes when he was upset he had trouble talking. When she asked Marcus what was bothering him, he would reply that nothing was wrong. Only when she coaxed him would he eventually tell her. As time went on, his resistance increased. The more she probed,repparttar more reluctant he was . . . neither of them felt an ounce of kinship; they didn’t even like each other. (Takingrepparttar 126214 War Out of Our Words, pp. 8-9) Sadly, this is how many of us expect a relationship to unfold. Afterrepparttar 126215 “honeymoon period” and “real life” sets in, people get into ongoing conflicts that eroderepparttar 126216 bond of love between them, imprisoning them in long-term power struggles. It happens with our children and our own parents, as well as with our intimate partner or spouse. Is this justrepparttar 126217 way things have to be? I don’t think so. I believe that most of us, whatever our race or culture, have learned a way of talking to each other that is based onrepparttar 126218 “rules of war.” So, for centuries, we’ve been using rules for talking to each other that actually create and intensify conflict! How does it work? Well, in a war, whenever you feel threatened by someone, you get defensive. And that’s just what we do in our relationships, even withrepparttar 126219 people we love most. How long does it take you to get defensive? When I ask audience members how long it takes to get defensive when someone pushes their buttons or puts them down,repparttar 126220 answers range from “a nano-second” to “instantly!” What about you? In Sally’s case, she got more aggressive as time went on. When Marcus would say, ‘I told you, nothing is wrong!”’ Sally would move quickly into her own anger . . . ‘Look, I am not a stupid woman. I can tell when something is wrong!’ (TWOW, p. 9) Marcus is sending a double message, glowering in his chair while saying he’s not upset, and Sally is trying to force him to talk. Both are behaving in ways that are manipulative and controlling. What can we do differently? Well, this is a big task, but one I believe is well worthrepparttar 126221 effort. The skills we need to communicate non-defensively are actually rather simple. When I teach them to third graders they learn them quickly. As adults, we have more to unlearn and we often resist change. Here are some key steps. Number One: The non-defensive mind and heart set—Stop trying to controlrepparttar 126222 other person: For example, we can give uprepparttar 126223 idea of “getting through” torepparttar 126224 other person, making her or him listen to us or admit something. Whenever we do that, are trying to forcerepparttar 126225 other person to change. Such force creates war. Number Two: Disarming questions— Focus on curiosity: When Marcus, slumped and scowling, says he is “fine,” Sally does have an important piece of information. For some reason he can’t or won’t talk about what is going on. Sally had begun to work on her own defensiveness, and one day when Marcus seemed upset, she asked him gently, without conveying any coaxing, demand or accusation: Are you going to refuse to talk to me if I ask you what is wrong?” Sally reported that Marcus sat stone-silent for a while and then “it was as ifrepparttar 126226 stone melted, and tears streamed down his face. (Takingrepparttar 126227 War Out of Our Words, p. 98)

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