Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The proper way to make amends

Today had a conversation with a friend (we’ll call this person Boston), with whom my relationship is a little strained due my “lack of personal interest” (in an effort to be politically correct) in another person (Jersey) with whom Boston is related to and they are an extremely important part of Boston’s life. The conversation was apparently one that needed to happen, as a number of things have occurred, both in and out of Boston’s presence, that have let to this current state between the other parties. Boston’s wish is that we could all be good friends, both together and as individual pairs. While I (I’ll refer to myself as Chicago) don’t think that’s impossible, I think its hard to move on without addresses fundamental issues that have led to the present time, and are likely to reoccur, as the issues seem more personality driven, than situational.

SO… in mathematical terms:

Chicago + Boston= GOOD
Boston + Jersey = GOOD
Chicago + Jersey = NOT GOOD

That being said, there was a recent “attempt”, on Jersey’s behalf, to “squash” the past and move forward with Chicago (me). The comment was made in 2 parts: Part 1 – address the emotions that resulted from the most recent incident, and Part 2 – express a desire to attempt to be more friendly. Sounds great, right? I mean how can you not appreciate someone who steps up to the plate… right?

WRONG. And I’ll tell you how.

The message, so nice in its intent, was actually read over the phone by Boston who claimed to be simply relaying the message from Jersey, because Jersey felt that Chicago would not want to hear from them. So instead of trying to call Chicago, or (e)mailing the note, or even a “can you call me text”, Jersey took the childish way out by saying “I’ll have my assistant do it for me”. And the acting personal assistant, Boston, did it, all the while defending the fact that Jersey had attempted to reconcile and yet Chicago is not cooperating… confused yet?

Either way, I thought long and hard about the situation and still stand by my belief. An apology, reconciliation, discussion to get past an issues, etc should ALWAYS be done by direct contact. To make matter worse, Jersey has a bad habit of contacting Chicago regarding issues that Jersey is not even involved in, often times giving unwanted opinions and voicing unrequested comments… but the one time that there was something worth saying, instead of going straight to the person, they went through a liaison, using the excuse that they didn’t know if their attempt would be welcomed.

This leads me to today’s lesson… while Jersey was not necessarily attempting to apologize, you could look at the rules of communication the same way for a reconciliation.  I found an interesting article called “How to Apologize Like A Man” and took a few pointers to share. I am tempted to print it and mail it to the person, but I think that would be done with the wrong intentions, despite being helpful. This section of the article really caught my attention in terms of Jersey and the past problems we’ve had, along with the way the message was given through a third-party, versus person to person, even if it does mean calling a few times, sending a voicemail or even risking getting hung up on….
Why We Don’t Apologize
Pride. Apologizing can be particularly hard for men because it involves the admittance of fault. It’s hard to say that we messed up. That we were wrong. Our pride gets in the way.
Embarrassment. If we messed up royally, doing something truly boneheaded even though we knew better, it can be difficult to talk about it to the person we hurt or let down. We feel stupid and would rather pretend like it didn’t happen.
Anger. Things that need apologizing for are rarely a one way street (more on this later). We probably did something wrong, but the other person probably did too. And sometimes our anger over how they offended us is so great that we justify what we did and can’t get past it to apologize.
The antidote to all 3 obstacles? Humility. The reason we put up these walls is that we have an overinflated view of our true selves. We’re always right; we always have it together. But it ain’t true. We’re human. We mess up sometimes. You have to accept your imperfection as a part of life. Suppressing it will cut you off from others. Embracing it will allow you to grow as a man.
Pride. Embarrassment. Anger. <- All powerful worlds. For your Item of the Day I give you the message of Humility and some advice… handle your business like an adult. If you can start it, you can finish it, repair it, redirect it, or whatever else needs to be done. Just make sure you handle it. that’s all. Back to your regular schedule programming….

oh, yeah, and ALL COMMENTS/SUGGESTIONS are welcome :-)