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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

When Are Apologies Appropriate?

   Sometimes apologizing can be an awkward and even humiliating experience.  I usually don't have any problem apologizing when I realize I've been in the wrong.  The experience for me can be very liberating and uplifting.   Sometimes I've even made new friends in the process.   Being at odds with anyone is not a healthy situation to be in.

       The need to apologize usually stems from one or more of the following:

  • Misunderstanding what another has said.
  • Not having fully heard what was being said.
  • Taking the wrong side unfairly against another party.
  • Jumping on a bandwagon without knowing all the facts.
  • Not seeing things from the other point of view.
  • Being selfish.
  • Allowing jealousy or resentment toward another color your opinion of them.
  • Flat out being wrong and sticking with that wrong for too long.
      Since I tend to be slow to react and I like to hear all sides of an issue, I usually don't end up having to apologize much.  Sometimes I might have to do some explaining to clarify things, but usually it's a matter of trying to help the disagreement side understand better what is going on.

       I don't recall ever having to make an apology for anything I've written on my blog because I try to think my posts through carefully and avoid saying negative things about other bloggers.  I may disagree sometimes, but I don't get vicious toward anyone.  This is not true with all bloggers though.   And I rarely see apologies coming from those sorts of bloggers.  Of course, I don't frequent those types of blogs too much so maybe I've missed some of their apologies.

      Do you apologize when you know you've been wrong or do you just let things go?   Do you have greater respect for someone who admits they are wrong and offers an apology?   Do you know of any bloggers who you think need to apologize to another blogger?    Are there any apologies you'd like to make to anyone?


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  1. Like you, I'm very careful what I say on my blog. I try to remain positive because my blog is all about fun. I've apologized only once, and that was to an individual not because of something I posted or said online.
    It takes a lot for someone to admit he is wrong and I do respect that. Some people have too much pride to admit when they are wrong. Some just don't even realize they are wrong.

  2. I definitely respect it when somebody does something wrong, admits they've done wrong and then apologises accordingly for it. Likewise when I do something wrong I'm the first to apologise as well which is important. Nobody that I follow owes an apology for anything and I can't really see any situations where Bloggers could have a reason to apologise unless they're offensive or perhaps if they scaled back on commenting or unfollowed somebody just because they couldn't be bothered reading and commenting any more. Even that varies with the situation though.

  3. i try to keep things light and find i apologies for lack of keeping up with the life things that happen. my site are over 4 years old and the wonderful people comment and i appreciate each one, new people and regulars. that darn life thing is getting in the way.

    once with my wife, i sent myself to the doghouse for a very bad thing... i apologized for my action and was allowed to return to the proper situation.

  4. Many relationships could be healed by a sincere apology. Unfortunately, many of us are unwilling or too slow to admit we've been wrong and too proud to apologize. I am quick to apologize but sometimes could be more sincere about it.

  5. If I know I have said or done wrong I will aplogise. If that person won't accept my apology then that is their problem, Knowing I have done all I can to put things right,


  6. I hope I'm careful enough to never, ever offend anyone. But if I ever needed to apologize for anything, I would.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  7. From your 'Stem List', Misunderstanding tops the chart for me. Since I write with a 'cheeky tongue' and often 'mince/mixup' words, I do get concerned that my sense of humor may be misunderstood.

    I write my blog pretty much as a 'Pantster', and seldom delve into controversal topics. So I guess one would say I play it safe, and if I feel I'm about to blow my safe cover, I appologize before I offend with my often irreverant and politically incorrect self.

    Such is the case in this post...
    Sue CollectInTexasGal~Today's Post~
    Oh My Moon and Stars or An Intellectual Pursuit of a Politically Incorrect Pile of Poop

  8. I have apologized and I respect those who do. I hope I haven't offended anyone with my blog posts. They usually poke fun only about me.

  9. And sometimes people can be so rigid in their opinions that they make incorrect assumptions about someone who doesn't conform to their exact line of thinking. I have been on the receiving end of someone accusing me of opinions that I don't have, and that person never apologized to me. Ultimately we had to part ways because she made any further relationship unbearable.

  10. Alex -- And it's especially bad if the wrong is clearly brought to another person's attention and they stubbornly stick to their wrong side.

    Yeamie-- I have read things on blogs railing against others that should have been apologized for. General lack activity doesn't really demand an apology, but this is the most common apology I seen on blogs.

    Jeremy -- Apologies in a relationship like marriage can especially be important in very severe circumstances otherwise the hurts might not get resolved and stay within.

    Pam -- And it works better if the sincerity is on both sides. A one-sided apology isn't very effective.

    Yvonne-- That's right. Like in asking for forgiveness, once an offending side has done their part there is not much else they can do if the other side refuses to accept and be a partner in healing.

    Shelly--Sometimes we don't even realize we've offended someone because that was not our intent. Misunderstandings happen which is why clear communication is so important.

    Sue -- Humor can often be misunderstood. As much as I used to dislike them, I now see a value in using emoticons in on line correspondence.

    Em-musing -- I usually have myself in mind when I write my blog posts, but I guess we can sometimes write about such common things to us all that others may read and think it's about them. Sometimes offense happens even though nothing was intended.

    Kim -- Exactly! I've been in similar situations. And sometimes both sides are so rigid in their own thinking that it becomes a head-butting contest. It's tough to mend these situations, but there is always some kind of common ground if we are willing to look deep enough and try hard enough to mend fences.


  11. I have never felt the need to apologize for anything I've written on my blog, but in my personal life I have admitted I was wrong many times. I think it is so important to admit when we're wrong, for all the reasons you listed above.

  12. Like yourself, I am slow to respond. I like to let things gel for a while before responding. And if I say something stupid along the way I have no problem apologizing.

  13. Karen -- There hardly seems to be a reason to write something on a blog for which apology is needed. I'm sure it inadvertently happens, but usually there is enough time to think things through and do research if necessary. But in reactionary real time it can be easy to say things without thinking that need to be apologized for.

    Stephen -- It's the right thing to do to admit wrong when one is wrong. I think there are just some people who like to have a fight.


  14. An apology shows that you're not only sorry but respect the other person. There are times when you shouldn't apologize immediately including when you have to tell off someone for misbehaving. Sure you got angry but sometimes tough love works better than just smiling and taking foolishness.

  15. When I find out I have offended or wronged someone, I apologize immediately and then spend agonizing hours trying to re-play what was said.

    Sometimes I feel my comments get 'snarky' and stop checking blogs immediately.

  16. I'm Canadian so I apologize for everything. I regularly apologize to posts for bumping into them, or table legs for kicking them with my toes. That doesn't mean my real apologies are less than heartfelt. They're a must. It's hard to move on in any emotional situation without a from-the-heart apology first.

  17. I try to be careful on my blog too. I'm not there to cultivate controversy. I try to always apologize when I should. As a teacher and parent, I think it's important to set that example.

  18. Apologizing is a lost art. And like you, I feel relieved most times when I have to apologize...and it is not often (except to my wife :)) At work it usually catches people off-guard but it also reinforces the 33 years of knowledge I have gained on the job. If everyone knows I will apologize when I am wrong, then it helps everyone more firmly believe me when I am right.

  19. Sheena -- A willingness to apologize when appropriate shows respect and gains respect.

    Susan -- You always leave nice comments for me, thank you.

    Cathy -- A lack of apology when needed can be a stumbling block that can cause walls to be put up.

    Susan GK -- I can dip into controversy, but I try to be respectful about the element of debate. We can learn much from our differences.

    Chuck -- There's often a "tough, get over it" type of attitude about things these days and I think that is a mistake that can lead to deep-seated grudges and misunderstandings.


  20. I have no problems saying I am sorry. I have never had to say I was sorry for something I wrote on my blog. I think the worst thing I can do is hurt someone's feelings...when I do I feel just horrible until I can say I'm sorry...but even then I will think about it for the longest time.
    Blessings, Joanne

  21. Apologies are obviously necessary when one believes that he has hurt someone unjustly. However, we are becoming so polarized in our political and cultural convictions that we consider the "wrong" convictions of others as personal affronts. We often insult our elected national leaders, and they insult one other, with no sense of a need to apologize, since our opponents are so obviously "wrong."

  22. Lee-

    Tricky question.

    If I feel I was wrong, I will apologize.

    I've had times where I've apologized even where I felt I was not wrong because of someone's hurt feelings.

    But then there were times feelings were hurt, I felt I was in the right and refused to apologize.

    What is the right answer? Heck if I know!

    My oldest friends (the ones who do all the cussin') are also the people I would trust with my life-and I had a falling out with one of them where we did not speak for quite a few years and there was no question who was in the right. But when it hit five years, I went to apologize, he stopped me and went to apologize-and I stopped him.

    Too many years and fights (both with and side by side) and alcohol consumed to let anything end that friendship.

    But I had another friend where the falling out happened over a misunderstanding that I would have thought trivial-obviously not in his eyes-and we've not spoken in a year and a half.

    Was I right or wrong?

    Heck if I know!

    I am sorry this comment is so long and rambles on so.

  23. Lee-

    I just noticed your reply to Chuck, it's funny-I have exactly the opposite experience.

    I feel like people are far more thin-skinned these days and apologies are expected for far more things than I am used to.

    I'm just trying to say less. I can't tick you off if I'm not yapping atcha!

  24. Joanne -- I don't like it if I've hurt someone's feelings, but it also helps if they let me know about it since sometimes it may not be obvious.

    Jack-- Yes, this is a whole different level of affront. Civilized discourse is nice, but unfortunately in certain arenas of discussion it can get rough. As far as the battles among the politicians I think a lot of it is business as usual. It's all just more visible now than it used to be before things like TV and radio.

    Larry -- Apologies and misunderstandings can come on many levels and have many nuances. Often it's really dumb stuff too. I don't admit to things I haven't done, but I will try to clarify what happened and make my side known. Sometimes it makes things worse, but in most cases I've been able to smooth the rough spots. The relationship may be vastly different afterwards, but if the animosity is gone that that's a good thing. And actually I think we are saying the same thing in the last point. I'm saying that often offenders will be callous regarding their offense and think that the offended party is overly thin skinned when the offense is genuine. But I agree that for many things people get overly sensitive about things and fire up too quickly. Sometimes it's hard just to tease someone or make a joke without them getting all upset. It's like the old "you looking at me" thing. Maybe I was or maybe I was just staring blankly into space. Get over it bud. Not you, Larry, but our hypothetical friend.


  25. I'm a woman, I am never wrong.

    Seriously, I have no problem apologising but I rarely put myself in that position.

    No, don't know any bloggers who need to apologise.


  26. I think, especially when it comes to the written word, it's very easy to misunderstand/not take things in context and have difficulties because of it.

    I'm of the school that it's better to err on the side of caution than to be obstinate and I try to be very careful about offending anyone. Of course, sometimes, it's not always so easy... :)

  27. I don't see you too much in my neck of the woods and hope I never offended you. :)

  28. haha --- I'm very opinionated, Arlee (as you well know) so I'm sure I've offended many people over the short lifetime of my blogging "career". But I also speak from my heart on topics about which I am passionate --- most of which impact me personally --- so I don't know that it's appropriate for me to apologize for how I feel. Lots of times I "know I'm right" whereas the opposing party feels the same way --- controversial topics is where you see this most often --- and there truly isn't a way to back down beyond saying, "I think you're a dumbo, you think I'm a dumbo, so let's agree to disagree and walk away." I have difficulty with authority figures, given my background and upbringing, so voicing my strong opinions on my blog is very important to me as it allows me a sense of freedom. Usually I urge anyone who disagrees with my views to stop reading me, as I don't want to ON PURPOSE tick anyone off, so much as gain validation that I'm not alone in my thinking. Healthy? Probably not, but I'm okay with that.

    Having said all this, I did write a public apology to my brother-in-law once, which you are welcome to peruse if you so desire. I feel it was extremely heart-felt and explained my thought process and how I reached the decision to say I was sorry. He didn't take it well, but I can sleep at night knowing I did the right thing. We're okay now, but we have to avoid the things that set off each other's buttons. And that's what makes the best relationships --- the ones where you can love each other in spite of differences, or in the case of very special people, BECAUSE of them.

    Here's that blog post to which I referred:

  29. Jo -- I have not run across many blogs where I thought the authors needed to apologize to anyone.

    Mark -- Tact and clarity is of great importance when writing--especially when it's online where there is a potential to be seen by many for a long period.

    Desert -- I've left my comment at your site. You are always very nice.


  30. Andi-- I thought you deserved your own special answer since you took the time to leave the answer you did. Thank you!

    I appreciate you directing me to the post you wrote to your brother-in-law. I left my comment for that at the post.

    And, yes, you are very opinionated. I have been accused of the same at times. No need to apologize for strongly believing in something. I do believe in discussion, reasoning, finding out where common agreement lies, and understanding the differences. This can work if people aren't butting heads like you've described. Of course people think they're right if they believe in something strongly, but usually both sides are right about certain things and wrong about others and often will agree in more points than they realize. Cool-headed talk is much better than finger pointing accusations and name-calling.

    I think of a recent incident that I came across where a blogger who we'll call "A" was attempting to provide a rational explanation for something and was in turn attacked by the blogger on the other side (we'll call this blogger "Z"). That in turn lead to even more vicious attacks by some of the followers "Z". Blogger "A" seeing that there was apparently no reasoning with "Z" camp stepped away from the fray only to discover that a few friends of "Z" were continuing to attack "A" on their own blogs--unjustifiably so.

    The irony here was that none of these bloggers really know much about each other except for what we might show on our blogs and even this we don't know for sure is really who the bloggers are. In this case "A" upon some investigation became aware that "Z" is an excellent writer who does some quality work on other sites and can post some very funny and insightful in Z's own blog. The substance of subsequent attacks from Z's blog and on the blogs of Z's friends was grounded mostly in their own imaginations none of them knowing A personally or knowing what A would be like as a friend or associate.

    I think if parties went back to look at the original posts and comments that caused this nonsensical incident they could easily see how a rational attempt at a peacemaking gesture was turned into a battlefield by many bloggers who knew nothing of what was really going on and were digging into whatever inner angers and resentments they had themselves to be unleashed upon another person who meant no harm toward anyone.

    The bottom line is that A has resumed posting rational explanations of A's beliefs and opinions and Z appears to be posting fun things in Z's own style and seems not to be acknowledging anything ever happened. A small apology might be in order or a reasonable dialog that brings clarification to what happened. A bigger apology needs to come from a few others, but A doesn't know anything about most of these bloggers and they are probably pretty insignificant to A for that reason.

    But, Andi, you're cool and though I don't always appreciate what you post about I respect your right to do so unless you are pointing a finger laden with animosity toward another blogger. You can do that, but I think you should remember that old Golden Rule--you know about thinking about others and how they might feel.

    You and I probably have a lot in common. You play a guitar or something, you're pictured sitting in a minivan so I guess you have one, and you live in Ohio don't you? Hey! I have a guitar and can play a little bit, I own a minivan, and I was born in Cleveland! We could even be friends!

    By the way, thanks for all the times you tweet the links to my posts. I tweet yours when they're pretty clean--after all I have my reputation to protect. But I've probably tweeted links to a few of your bluer posts as well.

    Well, this has been cool chatting with you. Hope you see it. Hate to think I'm just talking to myself. But that wouldn't be anything new either.


  31. Hey Lee! What an interesting comment thread. I guess I'm like Andi in that I can also be opininated and outspoken, and my sense of humour has gotten me (unknowingly) into 'trouble' before. I do apologize to people if I realize that I've offended them, (I'm Canadian, 'Apology' is my middle name!), unless the 'offense' boils down to a difference of opinion. I will not apologize for holding an opinion that differs from the one held by the offended person....but the thing with blogging is that, as you pointed out, none of us actually know each other. We only know each others style of writing. And with nothing to go on except the written facial expressions, tone of voice,..all those other things that bely intent, it's very easy to offend someone, especially someone you don't really know. I think Andi is right to tell people they can spare themselves the offense by not reading the blog. Great topic and I think I'm gonna have to check out Andi's blog!
    Hope you're feeling well these days Lee, take care.

  32. I am very good at apologizing. I will usually apologize even when I'm not wrong just to get the ball rolling :) I've never had to apologize for anything I've said on my blogs because my writing is usually not rants or things that would offend others. I save that for my personal twitter account. :) Great article~

  33. Great breakdown on when an apology is needed. I'm surprised as you sound like a very thoughtful person so I can't see you apologizing much. I agree that I do respect the other person more if the own their mistake and apologize. Apologizing gets easier with age as our ego and pride won't let us when we were younger.

  34. Eve -- I agree that if someone is offended by a blog's content that they should just avoid reading it. However if a person mentions somebody else in an inappropriate way they should apologize to that person or at least face them directly with the problem they may have with that person. Talking behind the back of another is not the right way to do things and is rather cowardly.

    Debbie -- Thanks! It's best to never put oneself in a position where an apology is needed.

    Buck -- A lot of things get easier as we get older. I've always been willing to apologize if that was what I should do--it's the way I was raised.



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