Authentic apologies

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

Recently I read an excellent article written by Dr. Harriet Lerner in the November/December issue of Psychotherapy Networker magazine. In it she discussed the challenge of offering a sincere apology when faced with criticism. Being criticized makes up feel vulnerable and judged, and apologizing to the protagonist may be the last thing we want to do at that moment. However, assuming we want to stay in communication with this person and, perhaps, improve the relationship, it is worth our while to find a way to genuinely address the concern and own up to our part in it.

Dr. Lerner wisely suggests that we learn to “listen differently” and to ask questions that help us better understand the other’s feelings. Doing so is not, in and of itself, an admission of any guilt or responsibilty, but it is the beginning of an opportunity to learn what our words and actions mean to someone else and to realize how they affect the other. After doing so we may be better able to apologize, with sincerity, for what we did that hurt the other. Learning how to listen is vital first step to any honest and heartfelt communication and to eventually being able to offer an authentic apology.

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