“Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” ~ Elton John
Or, as defined by my dictionary
Sorry (adj) : feeling feeling or expressing regret, compunction, sympathy, for an action
Is sorry the hardest word to say? Is it really? Have you tried saying antidisestablishmentarianism recently? Try it, it’s a lot harder.
Of course, it’s not about the word itself. It’s about what it means. It’s about admitting fault or wrongdoing and taking responsibility for damage caused.
But the fact remains that people do seem to get into a terrible flap about apologies. Some never apologise, some do it all the time, even when there is nothing to apologise for and then it can become a tool for self-flagellation.
I recently needed to apologise to a friend over a minor mishap regarding some incorrect information. The fault was mine and, even though no damage had been done or unfortunate incidents occurred, I wanted to hold my hand up to the error and say sorry. I started typing a message “I owe you an apology”
And then I stopped.
Saying I owe you an apology is not saying sorry. Saying I must apologise is not an apology. To say sorry say I’m sorry: to apologise say I apologise. And that is the end of the sentence. Explanations, reasons, these can come after. If it matters, if it’s important, if you mean it, then just say you’re sorry.
It might be the damage that has been caused can’t be forgiven, can’t be mended. That, actually, isn’t up to you. All you can do it is say sorry, mean it, act it. The recepient of your transgression has the choice whether to accept your apology, to forgive, to move on. But isn’t it better to take that risk, accept the responsibility and apologise, than leave that hurt or confusion or damage unaddressed?
As it happens, my friend had barely registered what had occured and took my apology willingly and without concern. I can’t guarantee it will always be that easy. But if you think you have done wrong, if you think you need to say you’re sorry, then take a deep breath and say it.