by clicking the "Next" arrow.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Mindful : June 2019
A high-quality apology has three elements: 1 It accepts responsibility for the wrong and doesn’t even hint that outside forces, or the victim, caused the offender to do what they did. What to say: I’m sorry I didn’t show up to help you move when I said I would. What not to say: You were asking too much of me and I just couldn’t do it, so I flaked. 2 It’s unqualified. If the apol- ogy contains a “but,” it fails. There’s time later—after the injury has had time to heal—to bring up any qualifications that might be relevant to future interactions. What to say: I broke your trust and was inconsiderate of your feelings. What not to say: I’m sorry I made you feel abandoned, but I didn’t realize how big ajobitwasandIhadother things I needed to do that day. 3 It offers to make amends, such as offering help to someone you previously blew off or making a sincere effor t to avoid the transgression in the future. What to say: I know I bailed on the move, but can I help you unpack or clean up? If not, next time you ask me for help I won’t leave you hanging. I will do everything I can to be available, and if I can’t make it I will tell you well in advance. What not to say: Can we both try to be better about communicating nex t time? HOW TO MAKE A GOOD APOLOGY THE TAKEAWAY our sense of who we are, or who we wish we were. “To the extent that something you did threatens your self-image, especially as a moral person or a good partner, apologiz- ing puts you in a tough situation,” Schumann said. “It calls additional attention to negative aspects of your behavior” (bad enough that you did it; now you’re reminding someone of it) and keeps it front-of-mind, where it can insidiously and insistently declare, That’s what you’re like; stop fooling yourself! Apologies bring us face-to-face with the fact that we have something to apologize for, triggering a sense of guilt and its close partner, shame. While it’s true that after an apology we tend to feel better and have a stron- ger sense of integrity, the prospect of apologizing undermines the sense that the apologizer is a good person. Saying sorry puts one’s shameful behavior out there for all (or at least the victim) to see. “That’s why transgressors often view an apology as threatening to their self-image and consequently hesitate to offer one,” Schumann said. Or, viewed the other way, that’s why withholding an “I’m sorry” is an effec- tive way to mitigate the threat to one’s self-image as a decent person. The self-image hit explains why people with a fragile sense of self- worth are also less likely to apologize: If you don’t have much to begin with, something that reduces what you have is especially painful. People who failed to apologize saw a rise in self-esteem and an increased sense of control and power over others, compared to people who did apologize, a 2012 study found. (In both cases participants followed instructions from the researchers, not their own druthers.) Why? It gives the recipient of the “I’m sorry” an opportunity to twist the knife (Ha! You realize you were in the wrong!). It also undermines “value integrity,” the confidence in one’s goodness and the soundness of one’s core beliefs. The Chance to Move Forward This long list of barriers to apology, which Schumann explored in a 2018 paper, shouldn’t be taken as a conve- nient excuse or as cause for despair. Instead, it might be leveraged to make apologizing easier. For instance, when people focus on their core values, they seem to become more willing to sincerely apologize. In one of Schumann’s studies, she and her colleag ues had participants write about why the personal value they ranked most highly (e.g., justice, love, compassion) was important to them. That simple exercise has been shown to boost self-image as a moral person by affirming com- mitment to a treasured value. Compared to the participants who did not do this self-affirmation exercise, those who did offered more sincere apologies for remembered transgressions when writing what they would say to the person they hurt. This was an artificial, laboratory setting rather than a real-world one; people knew they were in a psych experiment, which can skew their behavior. So we should take it with a grain of salt. But by understanding the many barriers to apology—indif- ference to another’s pain or to the fraying of a relationship, or avoid- ance of a threat to self-image—we can glimpse what’s holding us back from saying “I’m sorry” in a particu- lar situation. From there, we have the opportunity to change course and let the healing begin. ● THE THREE PARTS OF AN EFFECTIVE APOLOGY Sociologist Christine Carter explains why saying “I’m sorry” isn’t enough. mindful.org/ effectiveapology m June 2019 mindful 35