It was a warm day and I was tired after clearing away the mess at home after the long weekend. Just as I was enjoying my cup of black tea, my younger son stormed in from school. He was fuming; my little boy was red in the face. Before I asked him, he went on, Mom, “I am polite to people, why are they rude?” “Why can’t they apologise when they make mistakes?” I put down my cup of tea, made him sit close to me and explained that apologising is an art. My little boy was all ears and I was only eager to share my learning’s with him.
I made myself a fresh cup of tea and gave him some chocolate cookies to eat. As he munched on them looking thoughtful, I told him that apologising need not be an ordeal. It is possible to apologise without looking shamefaced or embarrassed. I could see that my little boy was curious. Mistakes are an inevitable part of our lives and everyone makes them. But it is important to apologise if you have done something wrong. Apologising is important for your peace of mind for it sets you free. When an incident hangs heavily on your head can you be at peace? Some people hurt others as they want to get back at them. This deliberate action of hurting others may give them a sense of achievement and pride albeit for a short while.
So what is right way of apologising then? There is no fixed way but when it is done without leaving any traces of guilt or shame, it is most certainly the right way. Sunaina was a topper in her school and everyone was in awe of her. Vineeta was also good in studies but was not amongst the toppers. During an assessment both of them were paired together. Sunaina was confident of her knowledge and Vineeta was sure of her skills. As the assessment commenced, Sunaina began to dominate Vineeta and insisted that she follow her instructions as she knew more. Vineeta was polite with Sunaina throughout the duration of the test. And soon their teamwork won them the first place after which Sunaina was a changed person. She came up to Vineeta and said “Vineeta I am glad we worked together today. Being a topper had made me over confident and arrogant towards most people. I remember snapping at you throughout the test, but you never retaliated even once which only infuriated me further. Had you not kept your peace, we would have lost today.” Now this is the way Sunaina apologised to Vineeta. There is no shame, embarrassment or guilt in this entire conversation. Facts were stated clearly which made it possible for both the people to make peace and move on.
One does not lose respect in the eyes of another when one apologises. An important thing to keep in mind is to maintain the tone of the voice, it should remain constant. Voice modulations can lead to conveying mistaken ideas which can result in feelings of one person being superior to another. Apologising can pave way for a better relationship in the coming times. Perceptions can be momentary and people may be impulsive. The art of apologising should be taught to children from a young age onward.
Here are a few pointers towards the right approach to apologising.
- Approach the person confidently, make eye contact and request them to spare a few minutes as you have something important to discuss.
- While maintaining an even tone, state what you have to. You could say “I have been thinking about this incident since some time and this is what I feel about it. Maybe I acted on an impulse and it was not right on my part. I hope we can put this behind us and move forward.” Notice that the word “sorry” has not been used here.
- Saying “I am sorry” does not push you off a cliff down below. Yet some people are not comfortable using it. For them, the above mentioned method might work.
- Apologising in the right way brings you peace and calm. You are free from baggage and overload on your mind.
- Apologising does not mean that you have lost or are in any way inferior. It is just a way of moving on carrying peace in your heart.
- If you do not receive a positive response, it is absolutely fine. Do not regret your act and repent. People are free to hold onto their opinions. Do not go back holding a grudge against them.
- Apologising is undertaken for your growth and evolution as a person.
I did not realise that we had been speaking for over an hour as my little boy was glued to our conversation. As he got up hurriedly to leave for his music classes, he said, “Mom, I need to apologise to a few people too, Now that I know this, I am eager to do it.” This brought a smile on my face and as I watched him leave the house humming his favourite song, my heart swelled with pride.
You live once after all, why not live it well? Apologising is good for the mind, body and soul. Don’t wait or hesitate anymore. Go right ahead, break the shackles and set yourself free.