How Apologizing Can Go Wrong

How apologizing can go wrong

Sometimes it can seem like your good intentions backfire.

Whether it was a miscommunication or an unneccessary argument, sincere appologies are important for opening communication and moving past a problem. But why is it that sometimes, when you apologize, things just seem to get worse?

Even if we have the intention to admit we’ve done something wrong, it can be easy to throw in an additional phrase that will put your partner on the defense. These acusatory phrases are a means to shift the blame. Here is an example of how apologizing can go wrong. Which would you prefer to hear if your partner was apologizing to you and you were feeling hurt? “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have reacted like that. It was inappropriate.” OR “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have reacted like that… but if you had just listened to me…”

Apologies are stand-alone statements where we take responsibility for our actions and ask for forgiveness. Shifting blame is an attempt to apologize where you claim that the actions you made were someone else’s or something else’s fault. In doing so, we’re not really taking responsibility for our words and actions. So, the next time you want to do a heartfelt apology, don’t let it turn into the blame game. When you start blaming your partner for your actions, it’s no longer about recognizing that you’ve done something wrong and hurtful, but rather, it becomes about attacking and hurting your partner further. Remember, when you blame your partner for your actions, it’s more difficult for them to forgive you and move past the situation.

How can you avoid shifting blame?

First of all, it’s important to understand that blame-shifting is often done in an attempt to protect ourselves and our image. Nobody wants to be at fault for a mistake. But we need to also recognize that blame-shifting can be detrimental to relationships, both in our personal lives and our professional lives. If you’re apologizing for something, avoid using the word “but” at the end of an apology and don’t bring up the actions of someone else. These tips will help keep you on track to accomplish your end goal.

If you have a problem, you’re going to want to talk about it. But doing so should be done in a way where both individuals feel comfortable. Starting the conversation with an apology and following it up with something your partner did that really bothered you isn’t the way to begin a healthy, open dialogue. Starting with “I feel…” is a better option, but remember that your attitude, inflection and word choices are significant when it comes to having a worthwhile discussion.

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