Oftentimes you’ll find that hurt feelings were NOT the goal, but rather result from a misunderstanding of the issue. Life is short, and good relations are extremely valuable, so it is important to seize the opportunity to amend mishaps when you can. Sure, you may want to run, hide and ignore conflict, but the avoidance approach will only hurt you in the long run. Decades of studies, however, have shown that apologizing has a significant impact on the amount of forgiveness given.1 Often, I apologize even if I know my side is still valid and justified. But just because it’s justified, it doesn’t mean I haven’t hurt someone, and there is ALWAYS opportunity for me to try to make amends.
Life is FAR from about being right all the time, or about being angry and “showing” someone how much they’ve hurt you – instead, conflict must come back to the mutual understanding that you’ve each done something to surprise and upset each other, and if you value the chance of using that moment to become stronger, you must act to find what your mutual ground is.
So COMMUNICATE what you’re feeling. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for you to feel that way”. “I’m angry about this”. “That makes me sad”. Feelings like these are OKAY and NORMAL! I’m sure you’ve all heard the rule of using “I” statements, such as “I felt this way when you said that. It reminds me of all the times I’ve been hurt by that same thing in the past”. An example WITHOUT using “I” statements might sound something like: “You made me really angry when you said that, and I can’t believe you did it.” You can see very easily how this comes across as accusatory and hostile, rather than level-headed and open.
The idea of “I” statements is to express your upset as a you problem rather than a them problem. The aim of this is to de-escalate the scenario and allow everyone to understand no one in particular is being attacked, but rather that there is an external problem that you both need to deal with as a TEAM, with a common goal.
This all follows on from last week’s post about apologizing from the heart, by avoiding bringing anyone else into your apology, or trying to justify your actions (no matter how much you feel you are justified). The purpose is to find MUTUAL understanding. There ALWAYS is some.