Recently, a client, friend and super-supporter of mine responded to an email that I had sent her the week prior. Part of the email read: “So sorry Brea- I am BURIED …”
It is not the first time I’ve received an email from a client that included an “I’m sorry” – and I’ve also probably written an equal amount of them to my clients that started with the same two words.
In fact, I play “Apology Ping Pong” on a daily basis both in my business and my personal life. It’s a little out of control.
Like clockwork… I paddle an apology over the net for a delay in reaching out to my client to schedule their photography session (listing all of the reasons why), and then they hit the apology back to me a couple of days later for not responding to me to confirm it “quickly enough” while explaining all of the things going on in their life.
More often than not, the reason for both of our “delays” has something to do with managing a million other more important priorities.
Family. Kids. Work. Health. Exercise. Sleep. Trying to get “un-buried” from the chaos.
Things that – in the grand scheme of life – are way more important than an email between two people.
What’s essentially happening is we are apologizing for living our life and choosing priorities that matter to US.
Apologizing that we have kids to take care of which delayed an email. That we chose family time over responding to a text. That we didn’t clean our house for a friend when she came over because we were playing on the floor with our kids. That we are “bothering” someone when we decide to be honest that life isn’t perfect.
Are we TRULY sorry for those things?
I know what I’m sorry for.
All of us.
All of us that have come to believe that we owe another person an apology for doing something that barely affected them, because we chose something that was a necessity in our own lives.
It’s about time we substitute the apology ping pong ball for one of gratitude instead.
THANK YOU for understanding that I was spending time with my kids. THANK YOU for not caring that my house is a mess. THANK YOU for being a person that I can be honest with about my problems.
The words you use matter. You are expressing appreciation, and the other person feels appreciated. You aren’t apologizing for choosing to do something you wanted or needed to do, you are standing behind your choice. That feels a little better than the terrible feeling of the tail-between-the-legs apology approach for you, and saves the other person from having to convince you that you have nothing to be sorry for.
Can we all agree to save the words “I’m sorry” for the stuff that we should truly feel remorseful for?
When we make mistakes. When we hurt someone’s feelings. When we realize that we were wrong when we were sure we were right. When we want to mend a bridge that has been broken for a long time. When we raise our voice at our kids for no other reason than our own exhaustion and frustration.
But, please. Next time you feel the unnecessary apology ping pong paddle in your hand and you are about to toss one over the net… put it down, walk away… and come back to the game when you really mean it.