A fellow practitionner recently felt and shared that using Verbal Aikido meant never having to apologize. You may detect a hint of VA in my response: “I can see why you’d say that, but have you ever wondered why people apologize?” Needless to say, a brief destabilization ensued before a discussion did!
So in summary, here are a few concepts that may be interesting to ponder upon before your next apologetic dilemma:
- Many believe that apologizing is a sign of weakness or submission. Psychologist Aaron Lazare suggests that “In fact, the apology is a show of strength. It is an act of honesty because we admit we did wrong; an act of generosity, because it restores the self-concept of those we offended. It offers hope for a renewed relationship and, who knows, possibly even a strengthened one.” But indeed prioritizing the ego over the relationship can often get in the way!
- Choose your moment to apologize – a calm and sincere apology generally has more impact than one ‘extracted’ in a heated exchange.
- If you feel you’re being blamed for something, an Irimi approach, something like “Would you like me to apologize?”, can often open the space for an effective Ai-ki.
- If done correctly, an apology can generate forgiveness and even heal humiliation. Might this be your intention when you apologize? Could it also be the intention of the one blaming you?
- Humans are the only species that seems to ‘pay’ more than once for their mistakes – reminders of past acts can be like pain re-inflicted. If you’ve apologized sincerely three times for something, you can rest assured that you have underlined your intention. Be careful and aware that repeated blame after three apologies may be an attempt to hold a dominating position over you!
Personally I’ve always loved the Spanish way to apologize: “Lo siento”, literally meaning “I feel it”. It has a much stronger empathic sense than ‘sorry’ etc., almost as if you’re trying to get into what the other is feeling.