“I’m sorry!” is a short sentence that, properly spoken, can restrain confrontation and minimize the potential of relationship anxiety. Through the years I have pondered these 2 simple words:
* With everyone, there seems to be a four step process in arriving at “I’m sorry!”:
Step 1. The Deed. We hurt someone’s feelings with a poor choice of words. We set someone in shock with a quick and thoughtless outrage. We gossip. We fall short in a commitment that we made. Etc.
Step 2. The Denial. We have a natural, almost effortless, first reaction to deny our ‘error’. We become brain dead towards the existence of an ‘I’m sorry!’
Step 3. The Delay. After we awake from denial and face the certainty of our hurtful incident our 2nd action is to suspend our confession until we are ‘really sure’.
Step 4. The Delivery. We finally say, “I’m sorry.”
I have observed that both ‘The Denial’ and/or ‘The Delay’ steps can happen in 5 minutes, loiter for 5 days, or colonize our brains forever. The longer the delay in getting to step four – the more the damage.
* We will have a choice of manner and tone in which we express our sorrow.
I think that the words ‘sincere’ and ‘heartfelt’ are important in relaying your regret. False or insincere delivery usually means that you are still stuck in Step 2 or 3.
* Avoid starting your apology with, “I’m sorry, but …” Remember – It’s 2 words!!!
* People either find it easy to say “I’m sorry!”, or … they don’t! 50/50? It’s a weird kinda thing. Some will fly through the steps. And some will struggle. I usually find it easy to speak those words quickly and sincerely. It may be due to the plentitude of my botches and the resulting need to implement the application. J
Ephesians Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
* Helpful hint. It does take 2 to tango. In most incidents both parties partake in communicative errors. Even though you are always ‘less bad’ (that was sarcasm) – Be first to say, “I’m sorry!”. And, watch how quickly the other apologizes.
James But the wisdom which is from heaven is first holy, then gentle, readily giving way in argument, full of peace and mercy and good works, not doubting, not seeming other than it is.
Just some thoughts … to Think About!
Chris Beltrami is one of New England's most award winning photographers. For decades he has used his position as a Christian businessman to influence others to consider the claims of Christ on their lives. He writes a monthly devotional called "Think About It." You can be put on that monthly email list by contacting him at email@example.com. This article first appeared in the October 2015 edition of "Think About it."