The Art of Change Skills for Life

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The Power Of Apologies: Victory From The Jaws Of Defeat

June 16, 2008 Persuasion 1

I was asked recently to comment on the power of apologies. Here are my initial thoughts. In future posts I will talk about the elements of a successful apology and what positive change to expect when providing an apology.

An Apology is A Signal 

An apology signals the desire to repair or restore a relationship. Forgiveness signals the will to let the past be past so that the relationship can move into the present. Giving an apology may be only the first step in a long journey towards building a new relationship, or it may be the entire journey in a single step, depending on the capacity of the offended party to forgive.

The ancient Greek word for forgiveness is APHESIS, which means “to let go.” When you let go of carrying anger and hurt, you are letting go of holding on to the past, and freeing yourself up to be present and create a better future. So when you give forgiveness to another, you’re actually doing something for yourself. Letting go lets you stop hurting about the past. Letting go let’s you start fresh.

As I work with my coaching and counseling clients, I hear that their fear is the obstacle to asking for and giving forgiveness. Some people fear that asking for or offering forgiveness is a sign of weakness, of a lack of resolve. Some fear that asking for forgiveness will mean they’ve lost and the other has won. Yet the opposite is true. Giving an apology is a way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and it takes strength of character, courage and commitment to the future to do it.

Some fear that giving forgiveness lets the other party off the hook that somehow it is a denial of justice, because anger is the only penalty they can impose to make others pay for what they’ve done. Yet holding on to a grudge or grievance only punishes yourself, by keeping you on the hook. It is only through forgiveness that the most terrible torments lose their power to rule our lives.

What are your experiences with restoring relationships after you apologize?

Change is inevitable, but progress is not. YOU make the difference.

Be Well,

Dr. Rick Kirschner

Related posts:

1. How to Bring Out the Best in People At Their Worst (Series): Negative People 
2. How to Master the Art of Healthy Communication

 

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