Podcast – Episode 0170 – Apologies & Forgiveness
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In this episode Joel and Antonia talk about what it means to apologize and grant forgiveness.
In this podcast you’ll find:
How important are apologies and forgiveness
An apology has been socially coopted to be more about the person you’re apologizing to than the person doing the apologizing.
Social status comes with the position of being wronged and righteously indignant.
Being in the power position is seductive.
That’s a backward look at an apology.
The first reason we apologize is to acknowledge our impact on the world around us
Simone de Beauvoir “Ethics of ambiguity“
There is a tension that exists between us (subject) and others (object)
A person that perpetually apologizes for everything is downplaying themselves as the subject and overvaluing others.
If you never apologize, you are making everything about you.
Apologize all the time, and it is too much about everyone else.
We have created a debt structure with interactions. If we do something bad to someone else, we are in debt to them.
We like it when people are in debt to us.
A good apology is given and received.
Debt/forgiveness comes from religious paradigms.
‘You are bad/wrong in the eyes of the creator, and you have a debt you owe which you need to ask forgiveness for to be reconciled to your creator. ‘
Third reason we apologize is in an attempt to reestablish trust by exchanging appropriate behavior for inappropriate behavior.
We really should say, “Hey I messed up. This is the behavior I did that was inappropriate. Are we cool? Can we reconnect? Are we back in sympatico?”
The Inability to forgive others is a projection of your own inability to forgive yourself.
Accepting apologies encourages behavior change in others.
A person that doesn’t receive apologies teaches the other person not to change, which will only erode the relationships.
Simply acknowledge the apology. Then give an accurate appraisal of the status of the relationship
The first node of an apology is that the apologizer recognizes their decision somehow impacted the outside world
An apology requires behavior change
Behavior that damages other people needs to be apologized for
There is a node in each system where our behavior contributes to the situation that evolved.
Acknowledgment, debt, and behavior change
Do we need to apologize for every offense? Some people get offended over everything
What is the threshold of acknowledgment?
Do you want to preserve the relationship? If the person is perpetually offended, probably not.
The responsibility is on us to express ourselves authentically and compassionately
There is a responsibility on us not to get offended all the time
Somebody will receive an apology and then sermonize about how they feel wronged. So they accept the apology, but they are trying to maintain the power. Clumsy.
Interactions should not be all about status
Ask why someone’s behavior was the inevitable emergent of a system you participated in
Just because we can see why something happened doesn’t mean we are condoning the behavior
Serial killers are a perfect example of an emergent from a system running. Most of them had horrific childhoods.
We don’t condone their sins. Society needs to remove them. They are land sharks.
The behavior doesn’t get a free pass just because you apologize. Behavior change is a part of the process.
Personality types receive apologies in a certain way.
Thinkers don’t want to feel thrown into a situation that takes them out of their skill set.
A feeler wouldn’t want to apologize to the Thinker, “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings.”
Thinkers want the behavior changed — no feelings required.
Extraverted Feelers may feel like they apologize all the time
Showing up apologizing all the time is breaking the first rule of apologies which is to maintain a balance
Feelers may want more remorse from a Thinker when apologizing
The majority of things we mistakenly do to each other is not due to bad intent but sloppy behavior – thoughtlessness
“I wasn’t thinking. I will think better next time.”
TJs apology may look like this: “I will make it work better next time. I will change my behavior, so the whole system is different.”
FP “I’ve recalibrated my intent, so next time my intent will be better.”
FJ – Relationship mgmt: “I recognize when I do this thing it interrupts our Sympatico, so I will make sure I don’t do anything to disrupt our relationship next time.”
No matter what your personality type is you can make an elegant apology by following best practices:
Acknowledge what you did
Take responsibility for it
Explain why it happened
Make every effort to change the behavior
When receiving an apology, accept it and either move on or acknowledge how the relationship was impacted.
When apologizing it can be an ego hit.
When receiving an apology, acknowledge the ego hit the other person is taking.
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I found this fabulous. And agreed, if you really go down the rabbit hole…there will be no blame. It just is. And that is ok. <3
I am surprised how strongly I reacted to this podcast. I really dislike the assumption that a person who says “no” to the question “do you forgive me?” is making a power play via emotional debt. I think asking forgiveness in general tends to be selfish and should be avoided when trying to GIVE a genuine apology. In the example Joel gave his mother in law did him a great service in not forgiving him on the spot given the way they story was told. Had she forgiven him he probably wouldn’t have thought twice about the incident and would not have changed the way he goes about apologizing. People have this expectation that the words “I’m sorry” magically erases the damage to the relationship like it’s an “edit-undo” button. No one seems to realize this script strips the obligatory forgiver of their permission to let their own emotions run their course. If they don’t forgive now they are the “bad guy”. They said sorry, therefore you shouldn’t be hurt/cautious anymore right? This reminds me of an earlier podcast where you discussed the difference between making nice and being kind. The way to make nice is to say all is forgiven, no worries there are no real consequences for your behavior and you have nothing to feel guilty for now. Which usually leaves the forgiver still feeling pretty betrayed now that they were wronged AND had to be the bigger person to fix it in the end. The kind thing, although uncomfortable in the moment, is to be honest. To establish boundaries by stating this is unacceptable behavior and a repeat occurrence will not be tolerated. The consequence of this occurrence is that it will take time and behavior change on your part to repair the damage your behavior has wrought. Antonia argued that saying no they are not forgiven removes the motivation for change but in my experience saying “I forgive you” just because they were vulnerable enough to ask for forgiveness tends to invite an encore performance. Would saying “thank you for acknowledging your role” be an acceptable response or is that just as offensive as no? Maybe it’s an INFJ thing but I am more likely to genuinely forgive when the person shows they are dedicated to trying to avoid the same emergent in the future and acknowledge the rift was their doing by holding space for me to heal in the meantime. Is this still emotional debt logic or is this something else?
Interesting podcast Joel & Antonia. A couple weeks ago my daughter was telling me that Gary Chapman just came out with a new test for our Apology languages (http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/apology). I really think you guys were on to something when you said a ‘thinker’s’ apology is different from a ‘feeler’s’. Great food for thought.
Nice podcast, interesting topic! While I was listening I was thinking about forgiving yourself. I think that this is as important or even more important than getting forgiveness of another person. Even when the other person has forgiven you I think a lot of people will still live with guilt for what they did. In order to grow and learn from the event I think it is important to forgive yourself. It’s just something I wanted to add to the conversation 🙂
What I find troubling is how to go about relationships that are not leveled. Like a parent and a child or a boss and employee. I think that there are a lot of lost opportunities for growth because of our status and position. Even as a grown child, there is still a feeling of respect for the parent that might always exist in the relationship. So when there needs to be a conversation about forgiveness and apology to heal or grow, it is avoided because they will always be the elder. Is there a way to get around this?