Thursday, February 22, 2018

Types of Apologies (Part 3)

In the last two posts I wrote about manipulative apologies. These are apologies where the apologizer sacrifices the emotional wellbeing of the one she wronged in order to protect herself from shame, guilt, consequences, etc.

The apologies I'm going to write about today are more benign, although not necessarily noble. And in some cases, they could slip into darker territories. 

6. DAMAGE CONTROL-When someone uses some forms of this apology, they are probably more upset at being caught than they are ashamed about what they've done.  

The woman says to her serial killer kidnapper.  I'm sorry! I'm sorry I tried to escape!  I really am!  Please don't hurt me! I won't ever do it again! I promise!

A man gets caught by his child in the middle of the night. He's been eating her Halloween candy. I'm so sorry, Sweetie. You caught, Daddy. I'll go straight to the store in the morning and buy you new candy in the morning.  I'll even buy you extra.  

Poor Daddy doesn't know that damage control isn't always so easy, especially when you're dealing with a young child.  Daughter doesn't want NEW Halloween candy. She wants her exact same candy. Daddy is going to greatly regret his midnight chocolate craving.  

Sometimes Damage Control Apologies are not about getting caught but trying to smooth things over for practical reasons. For example, with workplace harassment. A man might believe the compliment he gave was actually very kind, but his coworker is upset and he doesn't want drama. He certainly doesn't want to face the prospect of losing his job. So he apologizes.

We might use or encounter damage control when there's a need or want for something.  

You totally think your cousin deserved that mean email criticizing her parenting, but now you've come to realize that one day you might need her husband's influence to help your daughter get a job.  

You argued with your aunt publicly on Twitter; then remember that Starbucks Gift Certificate she sends every Valentine's Day.  

Sometimes damage control apologies are used to keep the peace at times when we feel peace is especially important. 

You think your sister deserves every angry text you sent yesterday, but Thanksgiving is coming up.  Since Mom has cancer, it might be her last. You don't want grudges and drama at the table.  

7. COURTESY APOLOGIES-These apologies are for small things that are really not the fault of the apologizer.  

These are situations where it's rude not to apologize, but if the person receiving the apology is actually offended, they probably either are in a really bad mood, they have a psychological defect, or they're ignorant.  

It's like when your fart is louder or smellier than you anticipated. So you say sorry.


You are talking and accidentally spit in someone's face.

You're three minutes late to a dinner party.  

You're in line at Disney World with your two excited, rambunctious kids.  Though you try and try to get them to settle down; they end up bumping into the woman in line next to you.  

Your toddler has a tantrum at the grocery store. 

You step on a stranger's foot. 

You vomit on your friend after riding a roller coaster.  I probably WOULD get mad at this.  Because I have a vomit phobia.  I think that would come under the category of psychological defect.

Courtesy Apologies can also be used when we personally haven't done anything wrong, but we feel the need to apologize on behalf of someone else.  The toddler at the grocery store probably counts for that, as well as the rambunctious kids.  Though these are slightly different, because when it comes to parenting, I think many people believe that a child's behavior is 100% a reflection on the parent.  This is especially true with people who don't have kids of their own, and even more so, parents who have been blessed with a super easygoing child.  

Outside parenting, we might apologize for our other family members. We might apologize for people in our religious group, our ethnic group...or the insane, evil leader of our country.  

8. YOM KIPPUR APOLOGY- On the Jewish holiday, Jews are supposed to give this sort of blanket apology to people they know.  Or at least that's what I remember from when I was into being religious. I've just Googled, and I'm getting the idea that you're actually NOT supposed to just give a blanket apology. For example, this article talks about giving a genuine, decent apology.  

I'm not sure where I got the idea that Yom Kippur pushes for a blanket apology. I think maybe I encountered something in the past.

Anyway, I am guessing that some people do use a blanket apology on Yom Kippur. And people use it in other cases. Probably.

The basic idea behind this type of apology is you don't know what you might have done wrong, but if you did something wrong, you're sorry.  In cases where grievances don't exist or are minor, it's probably a nice thing to hear. When there are definite grievances, hearing a blanket apology is not particularly healing or helpful.

To be fair, sometimes someone might NOT know you are hurt or angry.  But if you feel they do or should remember, the blanket apology feels like a cop out.  

Okay. So I just Googled, Blanket apologies with Yom Kippur. The good thing is, I didn't dream it up.  They do exist. I think, though, that many people are against them. This blog talks about them, and why they kind of suck. The blogger says:

“If” I have done anything to hurt you — does not open any doors. It seems, rather, to shut them. To me, it seems to say: let us foreclose on anything I did over this last year and start with a fresh slate. Everything from the past is wiped out.

Later the blogger gives an example of a blanket apology that she DOES think is okay.  
If I have done something over the year that hurt you, tell me what it was; let us talk about it and see if there is a way to work it out and grow from it.

I like that. Though I'm not sure I'd be brave to use it.  I feel enough guilt and shame for the stuff I KNOW I did.

I also wonder...if someone said that to me, would I be honest and speak up, or would I pretend everything is okay?   In my experience, admitting hurt and anger can sometimes be healing, but other times it makes things worse. Because sometimes when someone says, Did I do something wrong? Are you mad at me? They're expecting you to say, No! Not at all! I'm fine. And if you don't, they might lash out, become manipulative, make you feel worse, etc.