The Art of Apologizing


During this stay-at-home order over the past several weeks, I’m going to admit it’s been a daily challenge to maintain my patience—especially before my daily morning workout. It seems like the rest of the day is calm and peaceful after I get some exercise in. Case in point: this morning (before exercise) my husband decides to make pancakes for the family. Clara, our five-year-old, asked for them and so he quickly obliged with a yes. We normally do not make pancakes unless it’s a weekend but every day seems like the weekend lately.

The Art of Apologizing | Duluth Moms Blog

At first thought, I was on board. Who doesn’t love warm, fluffy pancakes off the griddle with butter and syrup? No matter what’s on the menu though, I love it when he makes breakfast because I don’t mind doing the dishes. But on this particular morning, making pancakes turned into him asking me where to find every single ingredient in the kitchen. Which then turned into a bickering argument and I felt like I could have just made the pancakes myself! 

Yep, he got a little hot-headed and so did I. A few hours later, he apologized for his cross words, even after I so stubbornly refused to do so. Serendipitously, I came across a podcast episode on Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us called “I’m Sorry: How to Apologize & Why It Matters.” It hit me hard right in the gut. I know I should have accepted his apology with less attitude. If there’s ever a time to offer up grace and kindness, it’s now, but oh, is it hard sometimes!

Here are two tips that I’m most definitely letting sink in for today and, hopefully, from here on out.

Leave Out the But

First, don’t include the word “but” in your apology; it defeats the purpose of apologizing. For example, “I’m sorry, but you were the one in the wrong.” When you are making an apology, it should not be about the other person—but simply about you saying sorry for your actions. Don’t make it about what the other person has done and muddy up the apology. It can be as simple as (using my pancake debacle as example), “I’m sorry for having an attitude this morning. You didn’t deserve that.” 

Accept With Grace

Secondly, when someone is apologizing to you, make sure to acknowledge it. On the podcast, the exact words used were, “Thank you for the apology, I really appreciate it.” Most of the time our natural response is dismiss it with, “no problem” or “not a big deal.” But, in reality it is a big deal to apologize—it’s an act of bravery to be that vulnerable. We need to thank that person and acknowledge their act of courage. 

For some of us (me included), just hearing the word “apology” can bring on anxiety. It’s a vulnerable action to apologize for making a mistake. But let’s face it, we are all human and facing unprecedented times right now. We are going to lose our patience and get emotional—and that’s okay. Just accept it and apologize when it’s needed.

The Art of Apologizing | Duluth Moms Blog

After getting my dose of truth bombs from Brene, I humbled myself and approached my husband: “I’m sorry for my attitude this morning.” At that moment, I felt a burden lifting off my shoulders and I could see it happening for him too–we both felt better for apologizing. Let’s spread the love right now, and if we stumble, a sincere apology can help us get back on track.