• Uplevel Your Apology IQ

    As kids, most of us learned to say, “I’m sorry” only after we got caught. Such apologies got mixed up with a fair amount of shaming, judgement and punishment from our caretakers or the school principal. This was part of our socialization. We were learning to fit into a structure that includes rules, codes of conduct, our relationship to authority and the ethics of good v. bad behavior. This is a super important part of a child’s development. But the problem is that these early lessons about apology then became a reference point in our adult relationships. The problem is that mature relationships are complex. Adult apologies require more emotional intelligence. Couples often argue because they’re still operating from that earlier more primitive playbook. Once partners make their apologies as sophisticated as the rest of their lives, conflict can begin to fade.

    Below are some examples of apology mindsets created early in life that carry over into adult relationships.

    I can’t apologize because I still disagree with my partner.

    An apology is not an agreement. You don’t have to believe or admit that your partner is right in order to apologize. We apologize for how we contribute to our partner’s misery, or for not knowing how to find a solution or for what we did. None of these three things demands agreement.

    In order to apologize I have to explain my side.

    An apology isn’t about telling your story.

    Your partner isn’t interested in your side of the story. They’re interested in knowing whether or not you understand why they are upset. The purpose of an apology is to express empathy and insight. Once you’ve done this, they may be willing to have a separate conversation where they hear your side.

    Apologizing first means I’m giving in.

    Going first is empowering because you’re proactive and independent. Waiting on someone else to determine your actions is what keeps you passive and dependent.

    I only apologize when I know I’m wrong.

    Right or wrong is a totally different conversation from an apology. Smart couples apologize first. Only then do they have a conversation about their differences of opinion. Apology is about two things: what you did and how it made your partner feel. If you’re innocent and did nothing wrong, you still apologize for the harm done in upsetting your partner. If you screwed up, apologize for that plus for hurting your partner.

    Apologies make me feel like a weak person.

    Apologies are often mistaken for giving in or losing a power struggle. The truth is that apologies raise you above a power struggle. Apologies are dynamic, decisive, proactive and demonstrate your authority and accountability. Apologies improve your status and earn you the right to ask your partner to also be accountable.

    If you want my free guide, The Art of Apology, email me at coupleswhofighttoomuch.com and I’ll send it to you. This Guide contains a brief script that makes apologizing safe, swift, easy and heartfelt.