Stuff About Apologies

Sorry Oops

My sincere thanks for this great “Sorry” cartoon by Marcus
from this post on his blog. :)

 

My Problems With Apologies

I have a problem with people saying “Sorry”.

When not used as an “excuse me”, but to express regret and remorse, “Sorry” on it’s own just doesn’t do anything for me.

Too many people have said “Sorry”, who then went on to behave in ways which made it abundantly clear that their remorse was as enduring and memorable as last year’s newspaper.

“Sorry” leaves me cold.

I think some people use “Sorry” as a way to smooth over a situation, even if they don’t know what they’re being sorry for.

I hate that.

And I think some people use “Sorry” to divert attention away from the fact that they are knowingly careless with their behaviour and how it impacts on others, and are solely concerned with their own goals, regardless of others.

I hate that too.

I have found that some people use “Sorry” as if it were a super-fix-it word which is all that’s required in order to invisibly and permanently repair any situation they broke.

I really hate that.

I could quite happily live my life without being offered a single “Sorry” ever again. To me, “Sorry” doesn’t tell me they’re going to fix whatever situation they broke, “Sorry” tells me that they’re trying to avoid having to endure any unpleasant consequences of their actions.
 

Small Related Rantfest About An Ex Partner

My last, final vanilla partner (before I discovered my inner kinkfest) used to make a whopping big deal out of saying “Sorry”. He’d go on and on about how hard it was for him to say “Sorry”, and how I was failing to appreciate how much he was suffering in order to tell me “Sorry”.

This is quite aside from the fact that I did not ask, nor require him to say “Sorry”.

This is also entirely aside from the fact that he was saying “Sorry” because he broke something.

So, you may imagine, that his suffering as a result of his self-imposed martyrdom of saying “Sorry”, which in turn was a direct result of himself having broken some situation, inspired microsopic (or less) amounts of sympathy from me.

Like, he wanted a prize for suffering through the saying “Sorry” for something he broke.
 

    Tra la!! Your prize is, you get to go very far away from me, and stay there.
     
    Fabulous! ;)

 
Fortunately, he’s long gone. I’ve grown a bit since then and can now recognise such dysfunction (most of the time) when it pops up.
 

About My Apology Requirement List

I had a list similar to the one below at the time I was with ex-vanilla. But it wasn’t so clear or well defined at the time. I had three things on it, but I don’t think they were so concisely or clearly put. Being with ex-vanilla helped me hone that list to its current form.

Recently (within the last few months) I added the fourth item, just to round everything off. I’m happy with that list now, and I hope it won’t require modification for quite some time at least.

I’m imagining there will have to be some prit-tee spesh-ul (and scary) transgressionage going on in order to highlight any new element needed. :p
 

Apologies I Like A Lot

In order for any apology to be meaningful to me, I need it to include the following four things:
 

  1. Evidence of understanding the transgression
  2. Definitive acknowledgment of responsibility for the transgression
  3. An undertaking not to repeat the transgression
  4. An indication of why and how the transgression will not be repeated

 
I feel reassured when I get apologies with all those things in them. :)
 

Apologies I Don’t Like

I will disengage from any individual, automatically disregard, and immediately consider meaningless any “Sorry” said to me in conjunction with any one or more of the following:
 

  • Attempts to blame me or anyone else for their transgression
  • Attempts to blame me for objecting to their transgression
  • Attempts to minimise the validity of my feelings about their transgression
  • Attempts to minimise the significance of their transgression
  • Comparing their transgression favourably to something worse
  • Claiming their transgression was really for my benefit
  • Any attempts to justify the transgression
  • Any careless or deliberate repetitions of the transgression

 
Those elements are real deal-breakers for me.
 

Almost Finished

I don’t need people to feel badly if they make a mistake which impacts on me. I’d rather they didn’t, actually. I don’t feel any better if I know somebody feels bad for something they’ve done wrong. Those feelings don’t help me. And feelings of remorse often seem to interfere with fixing what went wrong.

It doesn’t seem like anybody benefits from unpleasant feelings resulting from committing a transgression. So actual remorse isn’t something which interests me very much. I’m far more interested in some indication that a transgression won’t repeat.

I’m not sure at what point I realised that “Sorry” didn’t do it for me. I know some people regard apologies as some kind of formal requirement which will make everything ok. And for some people, maybe they do.

But for me, I need something more than a simple “I apologise”, or “I’m sorry”. And I know that I don’t feel comfortable with a person until I get that from them.

And when I do get it, I feel very much better. :)

About Lady Lubyanka

I am a 45 year old musician, and also a multisexual, polyamourous, Jewish, socially dominant woman within my romantic BDSM relationships.
This entry was posted in Consent, fuckwits, Hypocrism, Me Me Me Me Me, noodge, noodging, nudge, nudging, Psychology, Rant, Rantfest, Respect. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Stuff About Apologies

  1. devastatingyet says:

    I generally think three elements are required for a legitimate apology (versus a more general expression of regret, e.g., “I’m sorry for your loss” or “I’m sorry I accidentally stubbed your toe on the cross there”), to wit:the statement “I’m sorry”a statement of what was done wrongthe admission that what was done was, in fact, wrong

    I didn’t make this up myself, of course. But, for instance, for me this would suffice: “I’m sorry that I said you were a basketcase. It was wrong.”

    The rest of your requirements…I don’t know. To me, that stuff is so context-dependent. Almost nobody in my life owes me a complete explanation about the specifics of how they’ll try never to wrong me again. And, of course, if I am wronged again and again, then no kind of apology/explanation/repentance/sincerity will prevent me from taking steps to protect myself.

  2. Hi Devastating :)

    I was considering including something about how these criteria apply to people who are close to me, and not necessarily just anybody who bumps into me in the street by accident, for example.

    But you know, verbosity problems and all that. :p

    The thing about people who are close to me is, that they have much more of a capacity to hurt me than any stranger would. And I deal more often with apologies from people close to me than I do with strangers, if you know what I mean?

    The criteria I outlined of course would be a bit much for an accidental bumping in the street, I realise. ;)

    For the fourth element, I meant it to apply to things done by people close to me, if they have a habit, for example, which may transgress a boundary I have. If it’s a habit they have, then I’ll need to know how they’ll modify that habit so it won’t repeat, you know?

    You’re right about the context. Still, all the elements are things I appreciate a lot, and they do reassure me a great deal if they’re offered at the time of the transgression. They’re things I myself try to offer others if I accidentally transgress. And I find that others appreciate it if I show that I’m making the effort not to do it again.

    Something like: “I didn’t mean to come into the bathroom without knocking, I wasn’t thinking, I’ll try to remember to knock in future” covers all the things I need. :)

  3. ps: It’s when a person close to me crosses one of my hard limits that the fourth item really comes into play.

    If a person close to me lies to me, for example, for whatever reason, then I really need to hear why and how they won’t ever ever do that again.

    Cos otherwise, I’m out of there.

  4. Terry P says:

    Generally, I say sorry a lot, mainly because I screw up a lot. As a professional apologiser, I do despair when I’m given an insincere apology. I see no point in apologising if you don’t mean it unless you intend to be a sarcy bastard. Alas, I’ve been guilty of that too, but I take comfort in the fact that the object of my sarcasm deserved every vitriolic syllable, even my assurance at the end that I’d not be sarcastic in future but merely ironic.

    But I digress, for which I, errr… well I’ll try to keep to the point, if I can remember it. Ah yes, that was it, the dreadful twin scourges that so afflict Young People (TM) today. The first is what I call the “band aid apology” whereby the Young Person tries to propitiate their angry and vengeful teacher (i.e. me) by saying sorry for whichever grievous transgression they have committed. Then they go ahead and do exactly the same thing again not thirty minutes later. Capital punishment having been abolished in schools, I cannot execute these miserable offenders, indeed as corporal punishment’s been banned I can’t even give them the kick up the arse they so richly deserve. So instead I resort to sarcasm. It may be the lowest form of wit, but it is by far the most useful.

    The other affliction of the Young appears on those rare occasions where I have to act as mediator. And this is when the victim of some dreadful injustice says, “It’s OK.” I had it today. A little girl in my form (11 years old, only her 5th day in Big School) had been bullied. I was all for being avuncular and putting into practice all that expensive counselling training the government’s given me when the girl insisted, “It’s OK, sir.” How the hell is it ok? The poor thing had spent the last 25 minutes crying her eyes out. She was afraid to leave my class room in case the vicious ********** who had bullied her was there. How can you honestly help in such a situation?

    OK, I could round up the vicious ********** of a perp and explain why bullying was wrong. At this point the little creep will insist on giving a band aid apology which will be met with an equally insincere, “It’s ok” and the victimisation of a child will continue. Still I have the comfort that the bully had apologised before inflicting the sort of psychological damage on the poor girl that only years of very expensive counselling will repair.

    So my response to such things now is along the lines of “How can it be ok when…?” or “Don’t be sorry, do the right thing.” Except of course that sometimes despair overwhelms me and I feel like giving up. I don’t know if that little rant was appropriate there, but oh, how I feel better now.

  5. […]errr… well I’ll try to keep to the point, if I can remember it. Ah yes, that was it, the dreadful twin scourges that so afflict Young People (TM) today.
     
    Ok, for a start, I think I’d better clarify that my points I made in my post are intended to apply to fully grown and legally competent adults, and not in any way to children or adolescents who haven’t finished growing, maturing, or learning about the ways of the world.

    Furthermore, I do not hold children responsible for behaving in the ways they have been taught, however erroneous those lessons may seem. Children and adolescents have not yet had the time to mature and consider the lessons they’ve learnt, and reconsider/relearn their behaviour. Up until they have been an adult for at least several years, I hold the relevant youth’s primary caretaker(s) as being primarily responsible for any behavioural difficulties which may be exhibited.

    I realise and appreciate that knowing this does not help much when there is a young person in your face making your life very difficult. But I do feel that holding children responsible for learning the poor lessons taught to them by adults is counter productive.

    (I do have 20 or so years of teaching experience under my belt from which I draw these conclusions, just in case you’re wondering)
     
     
    The first is what I call the “band aid apology” whereby the Young Person tries to propitiate their angry and vengeful teacher (i.e. me) by saying sorry for whichever grievous transgression they have committed. Then they go ahead and do exactly the same thing again not thirty minutes later. […] I cannot execute these miserable offenders[…]. So instead I resort to sarcasm. It may be the lowest form of wit, but it is by far the most useful.
     
    I know how frustrating this is in adults, and even more so in children, who cannot be fully held as accountable as adults can. Responding in a sarcy way in this situation isn’t my style, but I can see why it might work for you.

    Suffice it to say, I feel your pain.
     
     
    The other affliction of the Young appears on those rare occasions where I have to act as mediator. […sad story…] Except of course that sometimes despair overwhelms me and I feel like giving up. I don’t know if that little rant was appropriate there, but oh, how I feel better now.
     
    Ok, first, what a sad story. So moving, and so hard to feel any kind of hope for humanity after hearing it.

    My thoughts are:

    You DID help her. Listening to her, believing her, and supporting her, will have done her no end of good. This is indisputably a Good Thing(tm).

    Unfortunately, I feel that she has already had the sort of psychological damage which takes years of very expensive counselling to repair. The reasons I think this are:
     
    a. She didn’t report this immediately, but waited 5 days

    b. Her fear indicated that she didn’t have much faith that the adults would protect her from such criminal abuse from another student

    c. Her response “It’s OK” seemed to show that her gratitude for your support indicated that she expected less help than she got from a responsible adult

    d. Her “It’s OK” also seemed to show she didn’t feel entitled to the help and support she got, indicating low self esteem

    e. Her delay in reporting the abuse also seems to indicate that she didn’t feel entitled to the help and response she got, reinforcing my impression that she has low self esteem

    f. Low self esteem can only come from being taught that other people are worth more and are more important than she is, and that lesson can mostly be attributed to the primary caretaker(s)
     
     
    So, although it would appear that you have done everything you could have done, the predisposition to be more susceptible to bullying was already programmed into her from before.

    If you really wanted to do your utmost to protect that girl, and others, from the bully, I might try monitoring that bully far more than may be being done presently. for example, make him wait in class until everybody else has gone, and then have him accompanied to his next class, if that is at all practical.

    Don’t let him ever be alone, or without supervision. Bullying can only ever happen when nobody else is looking. Don’t ever let it happen that nobody else is looking.

    This may not be practical, and you may already be implementing something to address this. It was just a thought. A bully, however much lip service he pays to an apology, will continue to bully until he learns unequivocally that this is unacceptable. He has already learnt that this behaviour is acceptable from somewhere, most likely from his primary caretaker(s).

    The counselling you mentioned earlier will likely just as much benefit the bully as it will that girl whom he targeted. Nobody is a winner here. Punishing the bully, while perhaps affording some satisfaction and justice, is unlikely to address the actual problem.

    Both the bully and the girl are children. Both are entitled to as much as they may be able to gain from their education. If you really manage to teach the bully that bullying can never be tolerable, then you will have accomplished something really special. Make him a special project for yourself.

    Please consider that it isn’t always the enjoyable children who can benefit the most from what you have to offer.

    And getting some effective, regular counselling for the girl would certainly not harm her, assuming the counsellor is themselves effective and respectful. The earlier the damage is addressed, the easier it will be to repair. This applies to the bully as well.
     
     
    On the other hand, I support and validate your feelings that the faecally vicious little perp should be locked up and trampled on and sliced into a million pieces, and set on fire, and buried alive and stoned to death, and have his hands and tongue cut off, and have the pieces jumped on a lot by a bunch of really heavy people in big stompy spikey boots, and then burnt alive and drowned to death, and then get all that’s left and run a steam roller over it.

    There.

    But that’s just what I do in my fantasies to arsebuckets like that. I don’t promote that kind of justice in The Real World(tm).

    I’m glad you feel better anyhow. :) I spose I do too after that fantasy destructo-bully stuff.

    I also wanted to say how pleased I am that my post gave you a place to vent your spleen in the comments section.

    Let’s have a big cheer for catharsis! :D

    Plus it gave me a chance to use the word “spleen” in a sentence. I do so love that word, and it’s SO hard to get using it, you know? :)

    Ok, I think that just about does it. Please do feel free to write to the amateur unqualified non-therapist stick-my-nose-in-it Auntie Lubyanka again for all your emotional health advice needs.

    Or, in the case of the smarter people amongst you, maybe not such a good idea, that. :p

  6. Terry P says:

    Dear Auntie Lubyanka,

    Thank you for your prompt response and your graciously allowing me an outlet for the ventings of my spleen. Odd that, that it’s always the spleen that gets vented. Why not the gall bladder? After all, that’s where bile is stored, so surely such outpourings… oh yes, I’m drifting off the point again.

    So back to the point. I can well understand your stance of not holding children responsible for their behaviours. After all, they’re not responsible for their actions. However, the question would be how do we develop responsibility in them and literally educate them in the original sense of the word? In the end, the only feasible way is to act as if they were responsible, even though they’re not and give them a space where it is safe for them to fail as they take their first steps of responsibility. And that really can be frustrating and rewarding in equal measure.

    As for the bully, well, he’s aware that he is being watched. Sometimes, an air of omniscience is a very useful thing to cultivate- that and the tendency to pop up (or have a colleague pop up) just as he’s about to do something questionable. In many ways he is as wounded a character as the victim was. But alas, these problems are beyond my ability to deal with. I can do the first aid, if you like, but what the bully needs now is more expert help, if he is to be reformed.

    The victim, well she’s another matter entirely. She’s been seen by one of the experts and is being given assertiveness training. Whether that will put right her tendency to seek out roles in which she’s a victim or not remains to be seen.

    However, to return to the original area, these children were using language glibly, without any sincerity or honesty at all. That is behaviour that they are modelling from others, mainly adults, though I’m sure colleagues will also blame and that great Satan of the net-curtain-twitching brigade of Tunbridge Wells, the Media. Children are mirrors of our behaviour. If they are talking like that you can bet your bottom banknote of choice that a fair number of adults will be too.

    Terry P
    (Desperately seeking help with venting various organs)

  7. Thank you for your prompt response and your graciously allowing me an outlet for the ventings of my spleen. Odd that, that it’s always the spleen that gets vented. Why not the gall bladder? After all, that’s where bile is stored, so surely such outpourings… oh yes, I’m drifting off the point again.
     
    You’re very welcome. :) True, the gall bladder is where bile is stored, so its venting would be appropriate. But “spleen” is SUCH a cool word! It’s just got built in amusement all over it. :)
     
     
     
    In the end, the only feasible way is to act as if they were responsible, even though they’re not and give them a space where it is safe for them to fail as they take their first steps of responsibility. And that really can be frustrating and rewarding in equal measure.
     
    Yes. I agree, acting as if they were responsible and providing the safe space to fail is a great way to put that. Also hear here to the frustration and reward.
     
     
     
    As for the bully […]. In many ways he is as wounded a character as the victim was. But alas, these problems are beyond my ability to deal with. I can do the first aid, if you like, but what the bully needs now is more expert help, if he is to be reformed.

    The victim, well she’s another matter entirely. She’s been seen by one of the experts and is being given assertiveness training. Whether that will put right her tendency to seek out roles in which she’s a victim or not remains to be seen.
     
    I don’t know the girl, so I can’t say for sure, but I’m wondering whether it’s really appropriate to assume that she actually has a tendency to seek out victim roles, simply because she reported a transgression against herself which upset her?

    I am also wondering why the girl is another matter entirely from the bully. I’m thinking that proper assertiveness training (and/or anger management) could certainly benefit him every bit as much as the girl. I’m sure the girl could benefit as well from anger management; certainly, it could not harm her. I find myself wondering why his problems are beyond your ability to deal with but the girl’s are not?

    In my experience, anger management and assertiveness training don’t have all that much difference between them.

    Having said that, why not have anger management and assertiveness training as standard offerings to every pupil in the school? I could see that funding might be an issue, and can only be justifiable to the Powers That Be(tm) if there is a reportable issue. But surely, as a preventative measure, not to mention as part of emotional health, why not?

    It’s a pet peeve of mine that health professionals, from whatever branch of health, tend to work from an assumption of deficits, and not from an assumption of appropriate functionality.
     
     
     
    However, to return to the original area, these children were using language glibly, without any sincerity or honesty at all […]. Children are mirrors of our behaviour. If they are talking like that you can bet your bottom banknote of choice that a fair number of adults will be too.
     
    I agree that children use language as they’re taught, and follow the example of others. I note the glib “apology” of the bully, but was the “It’s OK sir” really used gliby, if indeed that was what you were referring to?
     
     
     
    (Desperately seeking help with venting various organs)
     
    (is not touching that remark with a barge pole)

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