STEPPING STONES TO AN EFFECTIVE APOLOGY

Whenever a delicious dish is served to me, I finish it within no time. I usually take 5 – 15 minutes to finish my meal. After each good and satisfying meal, I tell my wife, “It takes so much time to prepare a meal, but we finish it within 5 or 10 minutes.”

Let’s calculate the time of preparation of a delicious meal… She goes to the market to buy vegetables, meat, spices, rice etc., which takes around 30 minutes. Then she chops them into the right pieces and washes them clean, which takes around say, 25 minutes. Then she marinates the meat for another 30 minutes… Then she starts cooking the meal which takes another 15-30 minutes… garnishing and serving take another 5 minutes… Total time taken to prepare a good and delicious meal is 2 hours. And I finish that same meal within 15 minutes, maximum.  

An apology is that kind of meal that is offered by the person who has done wrong, who prepares it to make it presentable, acceptable and satisfiable for the receiver who has been wronged.

An apology is not a magic word called, ‘Sorry’. I know, my friend Prabhjot in her article talked about three magic words and the word ‘Sorry’ to be one of those three which needs to be taught to the toddlers. Yeah, that’s true…it’s a magic word for the toddlers only. Kids don’t understand the gravity and they needed to be made understand with the words they are acquainted with and magic is quite a catchy word for them. But in the real sense of it, an apology is not at all a magic word but a painstaking expression and action of a person which is offered wholeheartedly to another person.

I will share an experience that my wife went through when she was working in a school as an assistant teacher. There was a teacher who asked my wife to get out of the classroom rudely for some reason. My wife was extremely hurt and approached the higher authorities. The matter was dismissed when that teacher apologised my wife by saying sorry. But my wife still remembers that. She definitely has forgiven her but the hurt was there as a memory. They are not toddlers, they are adults and just an insensitive ‘Sorry’ has no magic in it to restore the relationship or friendship whatever it was.

How then, an apology should look like? What are the stepping stones to present an effective apology?

I was reading an article lately on Psychology Today, my favourite web journal. That article talks about a study that discovered six components of a good apology. They are –

  1. Acceptance of Responsibility.
  2. Offer of Repair.
  3. Expression of Regret.
  4. Explanation of what went wrong.
  5. Declaration of Repentance.
  6. Request for Forgiveness.

I arranged the points or steps exactly how the study explains.

But I have compressed the whole idea into three very easy steps:

Remembering & Regretting about the PAST

Realising & Repenting in the PRESENT

Requesting & Recuperating for the FUTURE

Let’s discuss them one by one…

1. Remembering & Regretting about the PAST:

I usually get irritated when my mistake is reminded. I say, ‘Past is past…forget it’. But it won’t be forgotten unless I have regretted about it and owned my mess to clean up. My apology is not meant to silence the person who’s hurt but a reminder of my past mistake.

Accepting responsibility is the number one and the most important of all in this category. Accepting that I have made a mistake and making it clear that I am at fault opens up the gate to communicate with the person who is hurt by me. We should always be careful about the ‘BUT or Excuses in Apology’ as warned by Avinash in his article.

The article that I had read on PT, gives an example of two statements which I want to state here for all of us to learn – say, “I’m sorry I said hurtful things” rather than saying, “I’m sorry if you were hurt by my words.”

Accepting responsibility is like garnishing and the smell of the meal a host offers to a guest. It is the act to confirm that I remember what I did, regret about what I did in the past and ready to held responsible for it fully.

2. Realising & Repenting in the PRESENT:

Ranjandini, in her article mentioned about the language of apology, I think that aligns with the expression of regret which is as important as realising and repenting which has to be undertaken by the defaulter one after the other, in the present time when he or she is standing in front of the wronged. Preeta made it very clear that one should apologise if he or she really have a realisation of his or her wrong doings. And the language of apology or the expression of remorse is well extended only after a true realisation.

Secondly, we all know that wrong can’t be corrected, a scar can’t be made clean later, damage can’t be undone but they can always be reduced, comforted, made up, bound up by offering a repair. It can be by writing an apology or clarifying things with the people involved in the damage because of my words towards the person who was hurt or paying compensation and so on… Repair can be done only by a true repentant.

3. Requesting & Recuperating for the FUTURE:

A reconciliation or restoration of relationship is possible when our apology is accepted by the person who was hurt by us but unfortunately, this is not falling on our part of actions as it is solely dependent on the other person. But an effective apology always requires the defaulter to ask forgiveness from the person against whom the wrong had been done. When we face denial our ego may challenge us to take a step back and stop thinking of bending down to complete the whole act of apology and reconcile the strained relationship but we should remember to own the mess by taking responsibility of our wrongs.  

In conclusion, I just want to give stress on the subject of apology by quoting what Prerna said in her article – “every human commits sins and mistakes, so every human should seek forgiveness”, but we should always apologise in the right time – as early as possible. Kalpana, lost the opportunity to apologise to her father because she didn’t do that before it’s too late.

So, friends, before its too late let’s move our feet on those slippery and difficult stepping stones to complete the process of true and effective apology and restore our friendship/relationship. The Bible says, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion“. If our confession is true then our apology will be effective. 

Stay Blessed!

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THE ‘BUT’ IN AN APOLOGY

All of us deal from a common platform Apart from God, No One Is Perfect. The sting of imperfection is deeply rooted in us since we were conceived and its shackle accompanies us till death. Some of these infections were credited in our heredity, some are the adverse effect of our environment and some are the byproducts of our thoughts. Altogether, irrespective of the intensity of our mistakes, we human sin and hurt every now and then, so THE NEED OF APOLOGY IS INEVITABLE in our life. Usually, as our mistakes are unveiled, we apologize but it is always backed by a BUT!

“Yes, I accept, I have done wrong and I apologize for that, BUT……

While chatting with my friend, unintentionally I hurt her through some inappropriate words. As a result, she was upset on me although I never intend to hurt her. Both of us were not in a good state of mind. In the meanwhile another friend phoned me and after hearing my upset tone he enquired about me. I shared him everything in detail and he replied, Bhai (Brother), “first of all, do not defend yourself with ‘But I never intend to hurt her’, accept that you went absolutely wrong. Wear her shoes and see how much hurtful are those words. I think you need to apologize her without using your excuse word –BUT.”

Often this is our story, we apologize but with an excuse. As we have no option left to hide our sin, situationally we were forced to accept our sinful act but intentionally we don’t. We look for a defense to advocate our mistakes and by raising an excuse we just roll the dice of blame on the other person/situation and tend to gain sympathy. Do you think we have apologized?

Sir Benjamin Franklin says,

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse”

Giving excuse along with an apology does not fit to exact nature of an apology, moreover, it is an inner approval to the sin committed and is the symptom of recurrence. An excuse along with apology is the tactful defense of our Self-righteousness and antagonistic nature to correction. It is the sheer reflection of self-aggrandisation. It is such a grievous state of life where transgression is visible yet our inclination deceives us to take it for granted.

An apology is the realization of the transgression in mind, verbal confession of the transgression, a lesson to rectify the trespassing of the holistic boundary in a relationship and a humble attempt towards the restoration of the brokenness.

God says,

“Confess your sins to each other, forgive one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

Apology brings healing and strength to the relationship but when the BUT and IF spine it, It Won’t Work.   

LETTER TO MY FATHER

Dear Father,

Hope You are doing well there. I am fine here. It’s been long since I opened up about my feelings. Today I want to let it flow without any interruption or inhibition.

I want to tell you how much I miss you. The lateral distance between us seems irrelevant as I find you by my side every day in my dreams. Every time I cook your signature dishes I miss your touch in them. Every moment I watch my kids grow up I can imagine your expressions and reactions if you were around them. Every year when my trips are due to my homeland I can visualize how happy you would be to receive me. Whenever I have a disagreement with mom I know you would vouch for me. To put it plain and simple you are never away from me.

But more I find you closer to me more I regret not apologising to you for my rude behaviour, for my harsh words, for my cold shoulder that I gave you when you least expected it. We had a crisis, we stood together and rose to the occasion but I did let anger dwell within me against some of your decisions. The new then-found independence handed me over a bit of arrogance which I sometimes used in my words that hurt you. That was in the spur of the moment though.  You never held any grudge against me. We fell apart but kept flowing together only to reconcile more strongly. I thank you for everything you did for me.

Now having a family of my own I understand how spearheaded words can leave you wounded for long or forever. I plead of being guilty to have done the same to you. I wish I could have apologised to you early. I wish I could have ripped open my heart to you to show how guilt is written all over it. I wish I could talk to you one more time.

I miss you and I am sorry Daddy.

Yours Lovingly,

Daughter.

P.S: please post this letter to heaven as my father resides there.

People say “better late than never” but I would say “do it before it’s too late“. As a family, we all have such moments transpiring among us where in the heat of arguments or disagreements, disappointments, disapproval we end up shooting curses, venomous words to hurt people and satisfy our ego for that moment. Later everything falls back to normalcy. We sometimes apologise, sometimes take “Sorry” for granted and never actually say it because we know our family loves us with all our follies and we move on.  And many a time there are instances that our leniency would never give us a chance to say it to the concerned person even after we realise how wrong we were because that person is gone like in my case.

Remember: Apologise now before it’s too late because later you might have all the courage and beautiful words to express your remorse but the person might not be there with you forever.  Uncertainty’s thy name is LIFE.

APOLOGY, THE ONLY WAY TO WIN AN INCENSED

There is a very famous saying, “To err is human, to forgive is divine”. We, humans, make mistakes and we are not perfect. Even if, we try hard, not to commit sins and mistakes, we end up committing mistakes. Sometimes, we hurt people through our words or action and maybe we don’t realize it. There is no such human who didn’t hurt a person or two, throughout life. As, Rajnandini said in her article, “we can’t please everybody we meet”, but we can apologize.

I remember one incident, my niece was one year old. Like every other household, we too taught her different words like please, thank you etc. One day, she hit her father while playing. We asked her to say sorry, she immediately held her ears and apologized to her father. It seemed so cute that I couldn’t resist myself from planting a soft kiss on her cheeks. Now, she is about to turn 4, and she understands, whenever she hits or hurts somebody, she must seek forgiveness.

Those who think an apology is a sign of being weak, they are always wrong. Seeking forgiveness will never make you weak. Owing to the fact, you are strong enough to realize your mistake and making an effort to win the trust. When you don’t apologize, you lose a valuable person. When you apologize, let it be from within because the fake ones can never restore things.

Since every human commits sins and mistakes, so every human should seek forgiveness, irrespective of their age. Apologizing has a power that heals the wound caused by our words and actions, to some extent. When we apologize, then it shows we value the person and the relationship, like anything. It shows, we are sorry for our action.

Concluding, I would say, an apology is a string that brings back the incensed and one should never miss this string.

I SURPRISE MYSELF

From dreaming a dreamy dream
with my eyes wide open to
living a lifeless life with my
soul completely broken;

I surprise myself by turning the
curve of my lips downside up,
pretending to beat the blues when
already my soul has blown-up.

I surprise myself by
breathing every day,
by letting fate, with me,
callously play.

I surprise myself by letting you
play with my heart again,
when you so carelessly smashed
it without realising my pain.

I surprise myself by letting you
make me believe, every time,
that I’m at fault,
when you are the one
never to apologize for all
your fierce assaults.

I surprise myself by offering
you my world which you
shattered time and again,
and how I end up apologising
to myself for making such
a blunder but still an excuse I feign.

Now when my eyes have chosen to
see beyond that dreamy haze,
I pick up those fallen morsels of me,
I apologize to them in all ways.

ONE OF MY MAGIC WORDS

Mumma, what are magic words?” asked Joey.

There are three magic words – Thank you, Please and Sorry. And you know where to use which magic words, right?” I asked.

Yes, but why are they called magic words?” Joey asked again.

Because whenever you say these words, it does magic on the other person and other person feels very good. And in turn that gives you happiness too.” I tried to explain…

Ok mumma, I will try to use them.” he ran away immediately after uttering these words…

The same evening when Joey had a fight with a friend over sharing his favorite, he apparently hit one of his friends who went crying back home. When I asked him to say “Sorry”, he stomped his feet, shouted on me and started crying hysterically. Well, these are the everyday stories of being a mother.

Later when he calmed down –

Joey, why didn’t use the magic word when I asked you to? You know your friend would have felt so much better if you would have.” I told him gently…

Mumma, I don’t like ‘Sorry’ word. I like the other two, but not this one.” He told me innocently.

Why is that?” I asked him hoping that I don’t probe him too much.

I don’t know.” He looked at me expecting that maybe I know why he doesn’t like just this magic word.

You know what, it is difficult to use this magic word. Because this magic word makes you realize that you did something bad. It makes you feel guilty (I know for sure he doesn’t know what this word means). And you have to say it when probably you are getting too angry or frustrated with the other person. That’s why you don’t like it.” I told him almost sure he didn’t understand.

Then why do I have to use it?” this time he asked with tears in his eyes.

Because as soon as you use it, you will feel much better. And you can be friends again with your best friend. Isn’t it? Do you want to play with your friend again?” I asked

He nodded.

Then you have to give up your anger and apologize to him. Once you do that, he will also become happy and you can be friends again.” I told him

He called up his friend immediately and apologized. It hardly took 30 seconds for them to reconcile and they were back again to being best friends. They are just two 4-year-old boys who struggle to get over their anger and ego to apologize.

At work, we follow agile methodology of software development. That basically means that we plan the work only for 2 weeks and at the end of the two weeks, the whole team meets and discusses what went really well in last two weeks and what could have been improved. It is also an opportunity for the team to appreciate each other.

My role in the team is to define the plan for these two weeks and set the right priorities for the team. So, if I mess up – the team ends up working on something that might not be needed. And I do have messed up at times which made the team suffer. It isn’t a good place to be at. And when such things happen, I dread the session at the end of the 2 weeks. Because I know that I would be put on the spot and will be questioned on my decisions.

To prep for these sessions, I only tell myself that “It is ok to mess up, but it absolutely not ok to make excuses for it. If I messed up, I need to own it up and apologize and take the corrective actions. There is nothing else that I can do better to rectify.”

Every single time that I have owned up my issues and decisions – it has worked wonders. Sometimes working with other teams, I really struggle when another person is not ready to own it up. You got to own up and apologize – that is the only way forward. Otherwise, it is only a blame game and we adults look worse than the two 4-year-old boys who keep blaming each other for not sharing, snatching and hitting. Somebody needs to tell us, adults, that magic words really work – use them appropriately and you will save so much time and energy.

PREPARATION FOR PARENTHOOD

This week on Candles Online, we are discussing the importance of preparation in our lives. There are things that you can enjoy the most when you dive in head first, but for a majority of important events in our lives, we feel that we must prepare ourselves. Is parenthood one such event? Without doubt, yes. And yet, it often throws even seasoned parents into a conundrum.

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Source: Good Parentig Quotes

No matter how many books you read, or gyan you get from mothers around you, or prenatal yoga you do, nothing helps you get back on your feet faster than the thought of your newborn unattended. The stitches from my C-section still burnt with intense pain but one whimper from my daughter would make me spring up from my hospital bed. I wouldn’t entrust her feeds to anyone else. I’m sure many mothers will agree with me when I say that their mothering experiences were quite different from the one’s around them in certain aspects. The same goes for parenthood in general. No amount of research on being a parent is enough when you’re tackling a toddler who refuses to brush her teeth with ‘pink’ toothpaste and wants the ‘blue’ one instead. Aaaah, now there wasn’t anything about toothpaste choices in that book on parenting, was there? Don’t bother checking. There may be a thousand, no make that a million, other instances that the book doesn’t offer advice on. Why? Because every parent and every child is unique.

So should we not prepare for parenthood?

Of course, you must! While much of the learning about parenting happens on the job, there’s still a lot you can learn beforehand by observing others, through books, even through your own experiences as a child. For example, I am eternally thankful for the parenting books I read that acquainted me with the bowel movements of newborns, or else I may have had a heart-attack when I saw my daughter’s first few stools changing colours after every two days!

So yes, books, videos, the experiences of others, they all help you prepare, but the very first step in preparing for parenthood is preparing oneself, and by this I don’t mean buying things for the child, or redecorating your home to make it baby-proof, or going to the doctor or taking your health supplements on time; I mean preparing oneself emotionally to become a parent.

Two days back I talked to my best bud who is not a mother yet and we were discussing how some of our friends are second-time parents already, whereas she couldn’t conceive of being mommy to even one child because she thought she wasn’t prepared for it. What did she mean by that? Not prepared financially? Or her residence wasn’t baby-proof? Or that her career didn’t allow her to be a mother? It was all of that too, but mostly she meant that she wasn’t yet ready to take on the responsibility of taking care of a child. She wasn’t emotionally prepared.

Why is emotional preparedness important for being a parent when it’s your body and your pocket taking care of the child? It’s because biologically, after attaining puberty, most people can become parents very easily. Some are as young as just teenagers when they become first-time parents, but to be a good parent, one must be willing to take that responsibility and ensure that they will do their best to be good role models to their children. 

 

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Source: Pinterest

From what I have learnt after being a parent, parenting is all about being responsible, sacrificing and setting a good precedent for your child. Parenting is a lot of work and most of the time it’s a thankless job. Oh! also most of it is guesswork. Add to that, today’s definition of a parent does not limit itself to ‘someone who takes care of a child’ because the term ‘childcare’ itself means taking care of the physical, emotional, educational, financial and spiritual needs of a child. No wonder it’s a confusing experience for most first-time parents, but let me tell you, it isn’t any less confusing for second and even third, or fourth-time parents, because every child is unique! Again taking an example from my own life, my mother tells me, I gave her hell at mealtimes, and she fretted that my brother would turn out the same way, but he turned out to be an angel. So much for her parenting experience!

So if you are planning a family or are expecting a child in your world soon, the first thing to prepare is – yourself. Ask yourself if you’re ready. Ask your self if you will be devoted to your child – love him, nurture him, ignore his tantrums and bad habits, yet guide him on the right track to life and be a friend, mother, father, family, guide, teacher, protector and cheerleader to him for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. When you answer yes to all of the above, you’ll know your preparation for parenthood is almost done. Now go ahead, have fun being a parent and yes, you may now buy that cute dinosaur onesie! 😉

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Source: Pinterest

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