In my own personal attempt to install some better life habits post-Coronavirus, I’m trying to listen to podcasts as I drive rather than the mind-numbing, yet transportive, qualities of talkback sporting radio.
Yesterday, I found myself listening to Brene Brown’s new podcast “Unlocking Us” and her interview with Professor Harriet Lerner about apologies. One statement that Lerner made struck me.
She said that, in her research, she uncovered the most powerful reason that kids don’t like to apologise. And chiefly, it’s because we adults don’t know how to accept an apology.
For most of us, it seems, we’re simply incapable of saying “Thank you. I appreciate that.”
- adding a “but” to our acceptance.
- adding an “and you’d better not do it again”.
- insisting on eye contact.
- insisting on a straighter back.
- demanding that they sound like they mean it.
- justifying our own role in the situation.
What this does is make the apology a punitive mechanism where we view it as being less than effective unless it feels terrible enough to the student. Thereby, apologising becomes something that our kids seek to avoid doing.
I found this a fascinating concept, specifically as we re-adjust to school life and look to accept the mistakes we’ve all made, and will keep making, in these testing times.
I’ve always suspected, without ever really acting on it, that I don’t apologise all that effectively. But from here, I’m going to also focus on my acceptance of apologies by striving for brevity.
“Thank you. I appreciate that”. Yeah, that’ll do it.