Leave your non-apology at the door

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A genuine, heartfelt apology is a powerful step toward mending hurt feelings and finding a resolution. A half-assed apology, on the other hand, can be worse than none at all.

I’m awfully terrible when it comes to asking for apologies. It’s not that I’m hardhearted, cold-blooded person but I just can’t seem to get it right most of the times and I often regret the outcome, worse than remaining in the status quo. Which leads me to ask myself, “How am I doing it wrong?” Maybe you have that same question in mind too. Which led me further to research about the “dos” and “don’ts” when trying to apologize.

Experts would say that the difference between a sincere apology and cheap one has a lot to do with how it’s phrased. Word to the wise: If you say “sorry” and then immediately follow it with a conditional word like “but” or “if,” you’re headed in the wrong direction.

Studying about the subject of  asking for apology the right way, there seem to be phrases one should avoid when trying to apologize to a friend, family member, significant other or pretty much anyone, for that matter. Here’s what some psychotherapists had to say. 

1. “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

“Even though this phrase begins with the words, ‘I’m sorry,’ it is not a real apology. It does not take ownership of any wrongdoing. It does not communicate remorse for your actions, and it does not express any empathy towards the other person’s feelings. Instead, it may imply that you think the other person is being irrational or overly sensitive. Try to understand and take responsibility for how your actions or words hurt the other person, saying something like, ‘I’m sorry that I canceled our plans at the last minute. It was inconsiderate of your time and I understand why you are angry at me.’” ―  Gina Delucca, clinical psychologist at Wellspace SF

2. “I’m sorry I said that, but I never would have if you hadn’t behaved the way you did.”

“Again, we are hearing blame. ‘Look what you made me do.’ This is not an apology for one’s behavior but actually a maneuver to hold the other person responsible for one’s behavior. In other words, ‘You caused me to say this to you.’ We are all responsible for our behavior, no matter what the other person says or does. A heartfelt apology is to recognize the pain we cause and own our behavior: ‘I’m sorry that I reacted the way I did and upset you.’” ― Carol A. Lambert, psychotherapist and author of  Women with Controlling Partners

3. “I was stressed out!” (or tired…or hungry…)

“This makes a recurrence of the offense almost inevitable. Always connect the apology to the future. For example, ‘The next time I feel that way (whatever triggered the offense), I will remember that I love you and that our bond is so important to me,’ or, ‘I’ll make sure I get centered in my values so I don’t act on impulse.’ The subtext should always be: ‘I’m sorry that I hurt you and harmed the bond between us.’” ― Steven Stosny, psychologist and author of Love Without Hurt

4. “I said I’m sorry already, why can’t you just let it go?”

I have to admit that this has become my favorite phrase resolving a bump or a quarrel with my wife.

“Blaming your partner for not immediately accepting your apology, forgiving you and moving on is unrealistic and unfair. For an apology to be effective, it must be clear that: 1) You accept full responsibility for your actions and inactions; 2) You are sincerely sorry for anything you’ve done to cause pain and 3) That you want to remedy the situation by giving your partner what they need to feel safe in order to move on and forgive you. Not all apologies lead to immediate forgiveness. It may take time. And it may take apologizing more than once. Start by asking what your partner needs in order to trust you and feel safe and then do it.” ― Sheri Meyers, marriage and family therapist and author of Chatting or Cheating: How to Detect Infidelity, Rebuild Love and Affair-proof Your Relationship 

5. “I was reacting to…”

“This is an excuse, not an apology.” ― Stosny

6. “I’m sorry if I offended you.”

“This is an example of a conditional apology that doesn’t truly acknowledge any remorse or personal responsibility. By using the word ‘if,’ you are communicating that the problem isn’t really about what you did, but is about how the person reacted to what you did instead. Essentially, this type of ‘non-apology’ places the blame back onto the person it’s directed at. Simply remove the word ‘if,’ and your apology can take on a whole new meaning: ‘I’m sorry I offended you. I will make sure to be more considerate and careful with my words in the future.’” ― Tara Griffith, marriage and family therapist and the founder of Wellspace SF

7. “I may have done this, but you did that!”

“Try to avoid keeping score and bringing up times when the other person was in the wrong. An apology is about you acknowledging the wrongfulness of your own actions and making amends; it is not about pointing fingers at other people as a way to justify your actions.” ― Delucca

Here is what I’ve learned from the many bumps my wife and I had in our married life: Guilty or otherwise, whenever we hurt the other person’s feelings, ego or being by overstepping our boundaries, even in the presence of a valid reason, it is just fitting and proper that an apology be expressed right then and there — no “buts” and “ifs”. That way we can preserve the beauty and sanctity of the relationship.

How about you? What are your opinion on the subject? Which phrase strongly resonates with you?

Photo credits: Google photos

 

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The “Lost Connection”

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I am an inveterate people watcher, and lately, I have witnessed something that profoundly troubles me. WE CAN’T SEEM TO KEEP OUR FACES OUT OF OUR SMARTPHONES FOR EVEN A MINUTE OR TWO. Some people call it an addiction. Others call it an obsession.

For example, how many times have you seen someone pat their pocket and smile, having been reassured that their phone was still safely nestled close at hand? How often have you experienced “phantom pocket vibrations” where you felt a tingling near your pocket area—or wherever you keep your phone—only to discover that rather than the alert or notification you “thought” you just received what you felt was just some neurons near the surface of your skin randomly firing? A few years ago I would have just reached down and scratched that itch. Now I am supremely disappointed that it is only an itch.

Going anywhere for a vacation, walking around tourists-frequented spots,  I could not find one person who was not gazing into a phone, even those who were traveling with others. My friends around the world tell me that they see the same behaviors. The other day at a  party I watched a young woman dining with her supervisor pick up her phone while he was talking and check her Facebook. And the more interesting part is that he kept on talking to her and didn’t seem slighted at all. 

Last summer, my wife and I, took a road trip with some friends and visited some of the most beautiful scenery around the area traversing four top class tourists spots along the way. One instance we hiked all the way up to a magnificent mountain peak  only to find that since there was a cell connection up there nearly every hiker was looking down rather than out at the magnificent vista. And those who were looking were busily snapping pictures instead of simply looking and experiencing the magnificent views. I doubt whether they can have the same experience of nature through that small lens. Will those who were taking videos get the same enjoyment by reliving the views rather than experiencing them? Will they even watch those videos again?

Another interesting and somewhat troubling observation is that many young people, and a lot of older ones too, carry their phone in their hand. I often ask them why and the answer is always the same: “So, I know immediately when I get a text or an email or someone posts on social media.” I guess taking a second or two to take that phone out of a pocket or purse is not soon enough in our tech-rich world.

And I find it amusing (and somewhat disconcerting) that people even make excuses to escape whoever they are supposed to be spending time with so that they can check in with other people who may not even be real-life friends. Sometimes when my wife and I go out to dinner with friends (or other acquaintances) I am bewildered at how many people put their phone on the table and if it vibrates they interrupt whatever is going on to tap a few keys and return to the conversation often asking, “What did I miss?” Some people call this FOMO—Fear of Missing Out—but by choosing to not miss out on their virtual social world they are missing out on their real social world right in front of their face.

It is sad that this technology which was supposed to connect people is (actually) making them disconnect from each other in person.

I am still a believer in the major benefits technology brings to our world but I sincerely hope that what we are seeing is just another pendulum swing where we become so excited about something new that we want to use it obsessively and as time passes we become less captivated and use it less often until the next new thing comes into our world and the pendulum swings again. But the observer in me shakes his head and wonders whether the pendulum has reached its apex yet and, if not, what that will do to our relationship with the world and the “real” people who inhabit it. I remain optimistic.

Photo credits: Google photos

Perseverance makes a difference!

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If I had to pick one trait that is key to achieving nearly anything in life it is this. Perseverance. That’s it. It’s the one thing that sets achievers apart from those who complain that they aren’t reaching their dreams.

Perseverance is about doing what you set out to do, day in day out. Even when it gets boring, even when you don’t feel like it. Even when it seems like you’re on a road to nowhere.

I’d love to say that being better than average, super talented or gifted will ensure success. But none of that is true. Once you establish your big picture goals, whether it’s writing and publishing a book, making your blog successful and/or profitable, getting paid to post photos on Instagram, or buying a house for that matter, you need to persevere in the face of difficulty and boredom. And that’s where most people trip up.

Say you want to write a book. And you start it. And by the second week or even the second month of writing every day, you hit a wall. You’re uninspired. You’re tired. You stop. But the book won’t write itself. You need to keep on going. If you don’t persevere, you won’t meet your goal. Then you will complain that writing a book is hard. Well, sure. It is. But if you really want to do it, there is no other way around it than to keep on going. This is one lesson I’m trying impose to myself lately.

Or maybe you want to excel at social media. You want to make money as an online influencer. You open a Twitter account, set up your Facebook page and start your Instagram feed. You post a few times and then a month or two later, you give up, because “it’s not working out.” Brands aren´t filling your inbox with lucrative proposals to work together.

Let’s take blogging as an example — to work for you, you have to work at it. You need to persevere. You must be consistent over time, whatever that looks for you. If you need to publish posts once or twice every day, or once every week or month, to keep the juices flowing, that´s what you do. Day in, day out. Whether you are being paid for it or not. Whether you feel it´s moving you forward or not. Until you produce content consistently for a while (maybe months, maybe a couple of years), you aren’t going to know for sure whether you’re on the right track.

It suffice to say also that there is nothing wrong with trying out different things before you find out what you really want to dedicate your time and efforts to. But throwing in the towel before giving yourself a real chance to succeed, is cheating yourself. Don’t do it.

Stick it out. Keep on going. Post it somewhere you can see it daily: “Perseverance.” It’s a small word that makes a huge difference.

If, after persevering, you eventually decide to quit, then it’s a choice based on facts and feelings, not something that simply happens to you. Give yourself the chance to make that choice.

Stop Trying, Just Be

 

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Have you ever seen someone try to dance ballet who is not a ballet dancer, or heard someone trying to sing opera without any training? It would make you laugh, no?

Have you ever experienced an uncomfortable discussion with someone who is trying very hard to be nice? You can tell that this person is working hard to be polite but you can tell that it is not genuine. It is as if the person has a mask on their face and is hiding their true nature.

It is similarly awkward when a person you are speaking with tries to impress you with how important he is. You feel doubtful and wonder if they are trying to sell you something that may not be true. Are they merely exaggerating, or are they lying to you?

“Trying to be” means you are working on doing something that does not come naturally to you. It is not you.

Please do not try. If you are angry, be angry. Do not try to be angry. If you are depressed, let yourself be depressed. Do not try to look depressed to get attention. Just be, whatever it is.

When I find people who are genuine, I cannot be offended by them. They are what they are, and I find it refreshing to be with someone who does not try to be but is.

You know where you stand with this kind of person. What you see is what you get. You do not have to have multiple thoughts in your mind as you interact with a genuine person. One of the most difficult parts of interacting with someone who seems disingenuous is that one part of your mind is listening to what they say while another part of your mind is screening the information because you do not trust what you hear or see. It is exhausting if it is prolonged.

It is not always easy to be genuine. In certain situations, it is easier to cover our faces and souls with a mask and pretend to be what we are not.

To be genuine means to have no fear. To be confident enough in one’s own identity to withstand criticism. It’s not easy, but surely productive and beneficial to one’s self.

 

– just sharing a thought…

Being Smart vs Being Interesting

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Smart is good. I’ve always thought that one of the most flattering compliments someone could receive is to be referred to as “bright”, as I feel that word encapsulates much more than just one’s mental aptitude. The ability to learn and have a wealth of knowledge in that thing we call a brain is something to be admired.

The expression “the smartest guy in the room”, depending on how it’s used, can be a term of endearment or a flat out insult. But you can’t deny someone’s brain if it’s functioning at a level superior to your own. I know a few people (my dad being one of them) who I look at and think Wow, your mind is on a totally other level than most.

That being said, I find that most couldn’t really care less about how smart someone is anymore. And I don’t mean those simply making small talks at parties or cocktail hour. Most organizations are hiring based on personality much more than someone’s actual IQ (unless you’re trying to get inside NASA or other  similar institutions, then an exceptional IQ is required). Nowadays, in order to be successful, we all need to understand the shift that’s occurring under our feet.

No one cares about how smart you are. People care about how interesting you are.

 At 36, I’ve seen and experienced my fair share of things. But I want MOREI want to DOAnd I have the utmost respect for those people who are doers, because doers are the most interesting people on the planet. I would much rather someone walk away from having a conversation with me and think, “Wow, that guy is pretty damn interesting,” than, “Man that guy knows a lot of information (read as: useless c**p) that I could just as easily have looked up on my iPhone.”

Old stereotypes are shifting with the technological revolution that we’re living in. We’re connected to a device that can tell us anything we might want or need to know. Being intelligent used to be the main factor, the one thing that makes the difference, it simply isn’t anymore.

With that, I challenge us to make the shift from trying to learn and know about all the stuff in the world to actually living it. 

Be someone that you yourself would find interesting.

Travel the world and meet every type of person it has to offer.

Experience LIFE in a way that most people don’t and will never.

Run down the path that has never been taken.

Try different hobbies.

Try to be a musician, a dancer, a poet.

Do that one thing you’ve been aching to do just for the sake of doing it.

Live LIFE to the fullest reaches of our known existence.

I want to try all of those things. I want to LIVE Life. Because I know for sure, that in the end, I won’t regret it.

How about you? What would you prefer?

Photo credits: Google photos