Wednesday 17 October 2018

Mary Kenny: Why is sorry the hardest word?

An apology can be healing for both parties involved

Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

The smart advice used to be: "Never apologise, never explain". Apologies and explanations may only remind the offended party of the offence taken, thus re-inflaming the wound, and so make things worse.

Now it's changed to "always apologise" - but be careful that any explanations might sound like self-justifications.

The American psychologist Harriet Lerner, who advocates apologising as a "healing" therapy, says that the one word that should never be added to an apology is "but". "I'm sorry for what I said, but I didn't mean any harm." "I'm sorry for what I did, but I thought it was the right thing at the time." The word "but" must be deleted from an apology, because "but" always dilutes the apology itself and is inserted like a lawyer's defence of the accused.

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