“I’m sorry”…. why are these words so hard for people to say these days? Shouldn’t this be an automatic response if you have done something that affects another person? What is so wrong with apologizing?
I had a really sweet exchange with a gentleman in the parking lot of my local “box” store which drove home this point. To set up the scene: I had wheeled my cart to empty my items into my trunk and then walked it around to the front of my car and left it. Yes…. I know the cart-space was only four car-lengths away, but I was tired and it was starting to rain. I *do* try to return the carts to their proper area when possible, but this was just “one of those days” for me. I’d been shopping… I was tired… and I just needed to get in the car and go home. That’s no excuse for poor cart-etiquette, and I do know better, but that’s really not the point of this story.
Back to the exchange: As I start to open my car door, the gentleman (whose family had fled the car as soon as it stopped so they wouldn’t get wet) walked over to my cart and turned to me, saying that he’d use the cart and take it back to the store. I responded by thanking him very much and apologizing for not returning the cart to its rightful space. He then mentioned a recent situation in which he had gotten his car dinged by someone’s cart while they were emptying it and mentioned that they didn’t even apologize for doing so. I was struck by how much this episode still seemed to bother him…
Maybe they thought that if they apologized for dinging his car he might turn around and make them accept responsibility and pay for repairs (apparently it was a small paint chip, but still…)? Maybe this person didn’t want to acknowledge that they had done anything wrong? Maybe they were so lost in their own world that they couldn’t see past it to recognize that they had infringed upon someone else?
In any case, that short conversation left an impression on me. I know our lives are busy and we always seem to be hurrying from one activity to another, but would it really take that much time for us to slow down and be responsible for our actions? Would it be so bad to apologize if we inadvertently do something that bothers or upsets someone? I do recognize that there are always going to be times when apologizing might bring on more drama than you may be prepared to handle at the moment… Maybe you can find a better solution that will acknowledge your behavior and allow the other person to understand that you truly didn’t mean to offend or hurt them?
Are we hoping for absolution for our wrong-doing or do we simply want to apologize for our actions? We cannot control how other’s respond to our apology, but I don’t believe that offering one should be such a chore. I’ve written about this before… follow The Golden Rule. “Do unto other’s what you would have them do unto you.” If you would want an apology… a simple statement saying, “I’m sorry”… then why is this so hard for us to do for others?
Can’t we all just slow down a tad and recognize the feelings of others around us? You’d be surprised how far an immediate apology can go to repairing a situation before it gets out of hand.
Let’s all try to be a little more humane instead of just being human. The world might just seem like a much nicer place…