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Mindful : June 2019
apologies and tiny bitter brassicas that makes us often choose something else on the menu, thank you very much. When psychologist Karina Schumann began studying apologies, she noticed something odd: Psychol- ogists had barely investigated why they can be so hard to make. Studies have focused almost exclusively on the victim’s perspective, especially how apologies can trigger forgiveness and healing. “It’s been less about the transgres- sor,” said Schumann, an assistant pro- fessor at the University of Pittsburgh. Why Is It So Hard to Apologize? “I’m sorry.” Those two little words can be so hard to say. Research reveals why many of us struggle to apologize. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Sharon Begley is senior science writer with STAT, a national health and medicine publication. She is also author of Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain and most recently Can’t Just Stop: An Investigation of Compulsions (2017, Simon & Schuster). “That hasn’t been completely ignored, but what causes someone to apologize or not has been a much more recent area of study.” It’s about time. If people can under- stand what makes (or breaks) a decent apology, they might offer more of them. Bring on the healing, forgive- ness, and stronger relationships. The Likely Offenders There are many reasons why peo- ple don’t apologize. One is the → Apologies are the Brussels sprouts of relationships. Research says they’re good for us, and, like a dinner of the green stuff after a lunch of burger and fries, they can erase or at least mitigate the ill effects of a transgres- sion. But there’s something about both IF PEOPLE CAN UNDERSTAND WHAT MAKES (OR BREAKS) A DECENT APOLOGY, THEY MIGHT OFFER MORE OF THEM. 32 mindful June 2019 By Sharon Begley • Illustrations by Edmon de Haro brain science