I have felt inspired to write this piece, because I have found lots of people can have a sticking point when trying to get clear about being responsible for their own feelings and feeling a sadness when another has done something they haven’t liked.
We all have our moral standards and codes, but not everyone in our lives will behave within our expected perameters. So how do we move on from feelings of frustration, hurt injustice and anger when someone else has done things we haven’t liked? How do we not hold on to it? How do we move on from it, rather than just brushing it under the carpet? Sometimes that person may have acted unconsciously and may have no idea that their actions and words have affected you. You may feel that the other person should know not to behave that way, or be like that, or say those things, to you.
You might feel like some remorse shown by them would go some way to them acknowledging that what they did was unacceptable and has upset you.
Now, how do we get someone to apologise to you?
Step by step guide:
1) Wait a minute, what are we doing?
2) Do you want this apology to come from them? Do you want them to want to apologise? Of course you do. So do you think we should really engineer a situation that makes another do something just because we want them to?
3) So, you want them to want to apologise. You want them to mean it, you want it to come from the heart.
4) Do you know if they feel like their actions were justified? Do they know what effect those actions have had upon you? Have you told them?
5) Do you know that if you told them how you feel, that they might want to apologise? Have you asked them?
Why not tell them?
So here is the REAL guide to clearing up a yucky situation or miscommunication.
How to deliver feedback:
1) Ask permission to deliver the feedback- “Do you have a minute? Could I just tell you something about the conversation we had the other day?”
2) Say why you want a chat. Get clear about it for yourself- is it to feel justified or to get clarity? How about telling them your greater desire? This might be- “I’d love my communication with you to feel better and clearer.” Tell them the positive aspect of how you’d like things to be.
3) Be specific- “When you said….to me on Friday night…” (Don’t do the whole…’You always do this to me…” Being specific enables the other person to hone in on to the particular situation you are referring to and really ask themselves what was going on for them on that occasion.)
4) Own your reaction to their words/actions…say – “I felt…” do not say – “You made me feel…” Because they didn’t make you do anything. They said what they said, and you thought what you thought.
5) Ask for a response “How do you feel about what I just said? How do you see it from your point of view?”
You are acknowledging that you are owning your reaction to what they said/did, but that you would like them to know what your reaction was, so that you can both work through any miscommunication or problem together.
OK, so you get the point, there isn’t a step by step guide of “how to get someone to apologise”…
but you can open up a communication with that person to go someway to release your anger,
sadness or frustration and work through the situation.
If you didn’t care about the person, then you might not care about their opinion. Do you need an apology? What would the apology do for you?
Keep it in mind that the purpose of this conversation is for you both to understand each others’ point of view, and to reach a better understanding.
Rather than sticking with the belief that the other persons’ intentions were malicious, can you entertain the idea that the results that it has created in you might have been unintentional? How will you know unless you ask? Yes, you might be able to make an educated guess, but you don’t know for sure.
Do you believe that they’ll tell you the truth if you ask them? If not, then when will you know that any “sorry” coming from them is authentic? So, what is the point in even wanting them to say it, if you won’t even believe it when you hear it?
I believe that life is made a whole lot easier when you take people for their word: believe what they say.
The best way for you to practice trusting others’ for what they say is to be the source of truth in your own life.
Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
When you show up in the world like that magical things can happen.
What is really available is authentic human connection, who doesn’t want that? Please don’t be scared. Open your heart and be brave.
I would love your comments and thoughts on this subject.
Can we all find ways to alleviate suffering and upset?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, so let’s work together to understand each other better.
Photo with kind permission from Sara Holmes.