Growing up, I was taught to say “I’m sorry.” And say it I did. When I was dating Fred, he had to tell me to stop saying it all the time, because at the first hint of annoying or inconveniencing anyone, I’ll say it. But I was so genuine! So I’ve toned it down but sometimes I feel like the only one who will cough up the words.
Where has that practice gone? Just this week, two occasions stood out to me that clearly needed an apology. These aren’t relationship-killing events, but obviously, someone gaffed and should have said something. The first happened just today. I was at a luncheon, having a lovely time. The host came up to talk to me just after I’d sat down with my plate of food so I nibbled a bit but quit eating so I could focus on what he was saying. Discreetly, I just put my napkin over the bulk of the meal and then stood up after a bit because the conversation became lengthy. A good-hearted soul was cleaning up and outside of my eye shot, swept up my plate and threw it away. I saw her nearby and went over to her and asked if she indeed had my lunch. She looked in the bag, said an eloquent, “Oh….yeah.” and moved on. Uh, excuse me? A simple, “Oh, I’m sorry about that!” would have been nice. I felt a little disregarded but an acknowledgement of the Oops would have made it a little softer.
I was an observer for this next example. Some folks were sent an email from their employer saying they needed to do A in order to get B. Time passed and they did not respond. When the time came for them to need B, they were told….well, you needed to do A. ‘Oh, yeah, I saw that but just didn’t do it.’ Uh, what? When they were told again, that the parameters were clearly defined and they are capable of doing it, they just shrugged and muttered, “well….”
I don’t get it. How can people so frequently express apathy? Especially to the face of someone who is clearly invested or cares? Why not say, “Oh, I’m sorry. I’ll do that right away.” When one can see another is inconvenienced, irked or just downright flabbergasted with their bumble, just say a simple “I’m sorry.” It does so much to assuage. (Look it up. It’s a great word.)
Beyond just having good manners, when you say you’re sorry, a tendril of kindness connects two people. It’s simple civility and it sure seems as if our world could use a little more of it. I’m sorry. That’s just what I think.