I’m glad Zigman wrote the New York Times article, “I can’t apologize-Sorry” because it highlights the importance of a sincere apology and advocates face to face or phone as number one and two of preferred methods. I agree.
She motivates readers to apologize by suggesting it will relieve facial tension (and perhaps the need for Botox) and that the person apologizing may even be forgiven. However, there’s just more to it.
I spent a year mediating in the New York State courts and have mediated many more conflicts to date. If you peel back the layers of conflict, in the heart and in the minds of the offended you find the same issue, every single conflict, every time. Disrespect.
What a meaningful apology does is reinstate that respect. I’m sorry to tell you that “I’m sorry you feel that way” is not a sincere form of apology. It fails to take responsibility and that failure just slaps the disrespected again, right across the face. If you are in the wrong and disrespected the other, you owe it to the them to reinstate the respect you show right from your face directly to their face. Nothing less will do.
Something amazing might happen. Not only will your listener feel more respect so will you.
Those of us who can’t say we’re sorry sometimes make things worse with florid not-me mea culpas.