>We’ve been snowed in for 4 days now – and it’s been a mix of good, bad and ugly. My Oldest is talking to his Oklahoma Grandma on the phone at the moment, my Youngest is sleeping, and the Snoozer is sitting on the couch. The Oldest came up while his Dad was talking on the phone and was messing with him. He was just poking at him and being an ornery boy. Suddenly his Dad pushed him – playfully – but he fell down. My Oldest was very upset by this and started crying. He told his dad that he hurt him, and it was obvious that it was his feelings that were hurt.
I watched the Snoozer convince my Oldest to come close to him, and he hugged him, then he tickled the Oldest’s neck a little bit. The Snoozer then followed that gesture with an apology – and from here, I thought “Wow, I never feel like your apologies are sincere, because you have to do something obnoxious to relieve your guilt for hurting whoever it is you’re apologizing to.” Now – that something obnoxious probably seems very playful to Mr. Snoozer, but it sure makes an apology seem insincere.
As I watched their interaction unfold, I believe that the Snoozer meant it when he apologized, and I think that being licked on the cheek isn’t very offensive to a 4-year old. I also got to thinking about the apologies I offer. I try to look people in the eye, and focus on them, I use a very even tone, and I make a concentrated effort to show that I mean it. Yet, I can do this when I don’t mean it – to make someone feel better, or to ease my guilt. See, I feel less guilty by making the other person feel better – even if I don’t think I did anything wrong, I usually feel guilty if someone is hurt or offended. The Snoozer uses humor to deal with all things – too bad his humor often times annoys me.
As I am writing and thinking, I want to make sure that I’m communicating sincerity in a way that the receiver recognizes it. I also want to make sure that I am humbling myself and being sincere. I also want to consider that while sincerity looks one way to me, it may look different to someone else. Even more importantly, it may look differently coming from someone – so I shouldn’t automatically doubt someone’s sincerity just because they didn’t apologize the way I would.
How important are apologies in your life? Do you notice if someone doesn’t apologize to you? Does the way they apologize make difference to you?