28 June 2009

When sorry really isn't

Everyone says it. Most people mean it. But what happens when it's given off-handedly and lacks sincerity? I'm talking about 'I'm Sorry'.

Lately, I been witness to and been on the receiving end of this and it's a bit disconcerting. Something happened, which caused an issue. Nothing big mind you, but it caused something to have to be redone, which was time and effort. The other person's reply was "Oh, I'm sorry." That's it.

Now, here's the issue; this person was the cause of me having to redo the work. There was no sincerity. No real apology. No "I'm sorry that what I did is causing to redo your work. Since, it's my fault, can I help out in any way?"

The second case was when someone accidentally let go of a door they were going through and it hit the person behind them. The person just said, "Sorry" and walked off. That was it, not "Oh, I'm sorry, are you OK?" and grabbing the door to hold it for the person.

It seems that the 'manners' that were drilled into us by our parents have become just a rote action. I'm sure this was not what they intended when we were kids and they made us go back and say we're sorry to someone for something we did. They wanted to instill in us an awareness of our actions on other people and the consequences those actions cause.

We need to go back to this and think about why we said 'I'm Sorry'. If you really aren't sorry about the action you need to think about why you aren't. Are you becoming insensitive to others or uncaring. Or if you really are sorry, address the apology with more sincerity.

1 comment:

Alison Akers said...

This is definitely an issue in todays society - regardless of your geographical location. Perhaps our lives have sped up compared to past generations? Perhaps technology and instant gratification can be attributed to this? In terms of - people are alway looking for a quick fix, a quick response, if any at all, and then hurrying on to the next task, call, email, meeting. Just thinking out loud here ...

I detest ignorance and bad manners. It's such a small thing - common courtesy and respect. From my perspective, a lack of manners speaks volumes about the person and their thoughts about that particular situation.

As far as I'm concerned, an insincere apology is as rude as no apology at all. Don't bother with the words if the sentiment isn't there. So perhaps the art of manners is more deep rooted than the standard please and thank-you's? Perhaps it's based on the niceties and respect one person has for others? Perhaps it's moreso about perception and awareness ... about their personality, morals and values? These aren't things that are necessarily ingrained in us from our upbringing, but moreso learned behaviour from life experiences based on perception.

It's also subjective.

I'm actually told off by friends and family for being "too polite". I bump into something, I apologise. I knock into someone or speak at the same time they do, I apologise. I don't mean to abuse the term or overuse it, I've just been brought up to appreciate manners and an inherent respect for others.

This is a double edged sword as I also expect a certain degree of manners from others. Not to the same degree, but definitely a must - regardless of whether it's professionally or personally.

Which leads me on to the next train of thought ... if the person who has behaved rudely or has insincerely apologised, is close to you - how do you approach this? Explaining how you feel to them is one thing, but then can you ever be sure that the next time they apologise they are doing it for the right reasons as opposed to just trying to placate you?

At the end of the day - everyone is different. Rather than getting caught up feeling frustrated, (which I have done before), by an associate or friend, (or even a stranger), that has been rude. I tend to be grateful. Grateful for the fact that at least I'm aware of myself and my actions .. and grateful that I don't have the same negative affect on people that others sometimes do.

Just my 2 (rambling) cents worth :-)